Norton Core Router Gives Home Security a New Design

Norton by Symantec on Tuesday announced the Norton Core secure router for smart devices in the connected home at CES in Las Vegas.

The router protects up to 20 PCs, Macs, Android and iOS smartphones and tablets on a home network, and unlimited devices connected to the Internet of Things.

It will update its firmware in background mode automatically, but not the firmware on connected devices, said Ameer Karim, general manager of consumer IoT security at Symantec.

Core Functions

The router scans incoming and outgoing network packets across the home network, quarantines infected connected devices to a separate network, and alerts the user.

It provides a real time security score on network and connected device security, and gives users tips on strengthening security settings.

The router has customizable parental controls.

Users will be able to manage their home devices remotely from a connected mobile device.

Lost or stolen smartphones won’t pose a security problem, because “we’re cloud connected,” Karim told TechNewsWorld, so “users can instantly change the password.”

Users also will be able to add a PIN or Touch ID credentials.

The Norton Core supports Wave 2 WiFi and simultaneously transmits at both 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz. It uses MU-MIMO technology.

However, it may need to support other wireless interfaces, like Thread, Zigbee and Bluetooth, suggested Jim McGregor, a principal analyst at Tirias Research.

The Norton Core supports speeds of up to 2.5 Gbps for 4K streaming and lag-free gaming.

‘Stellar WiFi’

The router combines an omnidirectional antenna design with advanced beam forming to “ensure your devices get stellar WiFi anywhere in your home,” Symantec’s Karim said.

It can pause the home network as required, and can identify which devices can and can not be paused, he said. IoT devices such as alarm systems, door locks, IP cameras, healthcare devices and appliances won’t be paused.

Consumers can preorder the Norton Core now; it will begin shipping in the United States this summer.

The router is priced at US$200, which includes a one-year complimentary subscription to Norton Core Security Plus. The subscription will cost $10 a year after that.

A Good First Effort

The Norton Core is not the first such router on the market; F-Secure, for example, has been shipping a router for the connected home for some time.

Still, Symantec is “a widely known security brand in the consumer space, and they’re using Qualcomm’s latest radios to ensure the device is as current as they can make it,”noted Rob Enderle, principal analyst at the Enderle Group.

The Norton Core “anticipates mesh networking in the home to provide full coverage,” he told TechNewsWorld, although it has not yet been implemented.

For a first-time product, “this shows an impressive amount of thought,” Enderle remarked. “The only limitation, prior to testing, is that the mesh capability won’t be enabled instantly. Also, Symantec isn’t known as a router vendor.”

Layers of Security

The Norton Core “raises the question of whether your hardware and software solutions should be integrated into a single platform,” Tirias’ McGregor told TechNewsWorld.

“Software needs to change so quickly, and it seems like the top security software solutions change over time,” he said.

The Norton Core is designed as a geodesic dome, but “there’s a reason why the best routers are funky looking,” McGregor noted. “They need to optimize the number and location of the antennas.”

The Core’s design, while unique, “may not provide the best coverage,” he said.

Still, “there is no easy answer when it comes to security,” McGregor observed. “You have to have layers of security, and while the Norton Core is a good potential solution … it shouldn’t be the only one you rely on.”

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