3 Ways to Protect Your Home's Internet From Hackers

Cujo on a desk
credit: Cujo

Protecting your home's Internet is more important than ever, in large measure because every day, it seems, there are more and more entry points. As the Internet of Things (iOT) grows, those "things" become gateways to your privacy and data.

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We're already seen examples in the news. Remember that epidemic of hacked baby monitors? Web-connected medical instruments have also fallen victim. Before your home network becomes another statistic, you might want to consider beefing up your Internet security. There are a number of products that can make that job easier.

1. Cujo

Cujo on a desk
credit: Cujo

The name Cujo may conjure up a Stephen King horror film for most people, but there's another Cujo that acts as a watchdog, not an attack dog. A small device that debuted in June of last year, Cujo connects to your router and acts as a go-between, watching for suspicious activity and notifying you of anything out of the ordinary. Not unlike a watchful protector, Cujo has illuminated eyes. If the lids are low, it's not connected. Upturned eyes means it's watching. Fully illuminated eyes indicate you're under attack.

When Cujo sees atypical behavior, it blocks the attempt and sends you a notification. This behavior can range from a site in a foreign country trying to extract data from your computer to someone attempting to hack your webcam. When you receive the notification, you can decide how to handle the potential incursion.

If it sounds like there's a long learning curve for Cujo, rest assured that there isn't. You won't get a lot of false alarms or need to train your Cujo. That's because your Cujo shares information on the cloud with all other Cujos--and that means it has a pretty good idea what's normal and what isn't. If a Cujo is attacked, other Cujos learn from it and will ready.

Cujo's four eye lids light up during an attack
credit: Cujo

Cujo addresses the false sense of security that people may feel when they hear their data is encrypted. AFter all, encryption isn't the same as protection. A hacker who breaks into your network may steal your encrypted data--and given enough time, possibly un-encrypt it eventually. Cujo prevents that hacker from getting hold of your data in the first place.

Because Cujo also includes parental controls, you can create settings and filters for your kids to restrict gaming and other sites that you don't want them to visit. You can observe their activity as well.

Cujo offers two price models. Its subscription model is $99 for the device plus a $9 monthly fee. There's also a lifetime pricing free which is a flat $250 and no monthly fee.

2. eBlocker

eBlocker device
credit: eBlocker

A device you might consider installing alongside your Cujo is eBlocker. This gadget debuted in Europe in September and is now entering the U.S. eBlocker offers a different kind of protection than Cujo; it gives you the power to prevent trackers from watching you on the Internet and the ability to surf anonymously using the TOR network or similar VPN (virtual private network) service.

You've probably noticed when you're shopping online how ads for that product seem to follow you around from site to site. That's the result of trackers recording your online activities. Being followed by a banner ad might be eerie, but it's fairly harmless. You might even view it as a positive thing.

The problem is that those ads are only the tip of the iceberg, as I learned when chatting with eBlocker CEO Christian Bennefeld. "What's underlying those ads is a complex personality profile of all the web sites of all the devices you're using," he said. In that personality profile, is information about your family, your friends, your income as well as intimate details about your religious and political beliefs, health status and more. Bennefeld has some expertise on this front; he founded eTracker 17 years ago, a company which collected user data. About four years ago, he "saw the light" and jumped to the other side. Now he wants to protect people's data.

online personality profile
credit: eBlocker

According to Bennefeld, personality profiles can do real harm. If you gamble online, for example, apply for a loan, and forget to mention that fact, your bank could reject your loan request. Similarly, if you engage in risky activities like sky diving, a life insurance company may increase its rates. eBlocker keeps your personality profile out of their hands by shutting down the ability of trackers to create one.

eBlocker can help in lesser, but still important, ways, too. Dynamic pricing is a technique online retailers use whereby they charge different people different prices for the same product. The price they arrive at depends on a number of factors, including the type of device you're using. With eBlocker you can actually choose what kind of device you will appear to be using. Bennefeld gave me a demonstration where he went to Travelocity to book a hotel room in Paris. When he cloaked his device as an iPad, he received a rate of $180 per night. When he changed to a PC, the rate went up to $203 per night. "Staying there for 10 nights will get you an eBlocker for free," he joked.

eBlocker comes in two versions: eBlocker Pro, which costs $220, and eBlocker Family, which includes parental controls and retails for $250.

3. Keezel

Keezel online device
credit: Keezel

So you're pretty much covered at the home. But what about when you leave? Keezel protects you online when you're traveling, staying in hotels or just hanging out at Starbucks. It creates a Virtual Private Network (VPN), a technology most of us are familiar with through work.

man working with Keezel at cafe
credit: Keezel

You may be surprised how vulnerable you are on a public network. People can see your surfing history and even what apps you have on your phone. There's really no privacy at all. With Keezel you put a stop to the nosy parkers, and the much more malicious actors. The process is straightforward: Turn on Keezel, pair your device to it, and connect Keezel to your WiFi.

Keezel also includes an 8000+ mAh battery so that you can charge your device.

Keezel will be available in April, 2017. The company is currently taking pre-orders. Its basic plan, which covers over 5 devices, costs $140.

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