F-Secure is taking an unconventional approach to virus protection with a hardware box that covers every device in your house.
For $199, the F-Secure Sense connects to any wireless router and creates its own secure network. It then analyzes the traffic coming to or from any device on that network, finding and blocking potential threats.
Sense’s main advantage over standard anti-virus software is the protection it offers for smart TVs, connected appliances, or other smart home products. The makers of these products have a long history of neglecting security risks, so F-Secure is promising to recognize and stop common threats. The company also says it can block unwanted tracking and data collection, but it’s unclear exactly how this works. (We’ve reached out to F-Secure for more details.)
Update: Here’s how tracking protection works, according to F-Secure: “Sense will recognize suspicious traffic (for example, if your TV is uploading huge amounts of data to an unknown site) and notify the user though the app, and/or automatically block the traffic (depending on the nature of the traffic and user settings).”
As for computers and mobile devices, F-Secure Sense can protect them automatically at home, though users won’t get the same protection outside the house unless they install the Sense app. That app also allows users to keep an eye on how many devices are connected and any threats that have been blocked.
Overall, the product sounds a lot like to Bitdefender’s Box, and has a similar pricing scheme. The hardware will cost $199 when it launches next spring—with pre-orders available now—and will include 12 months of protection. After that, the subscription price becomes $8 per month.
Why this matters: In a perfect world, this level of protection would be built into the smart devices themselves, or perhaps into a smarter type of wireless router. F-Secure’s hardware could be a useful stopgap if it works as advertised and doesn’t put too much strain on network performance.
Jared Newman has been helping folks make sense of technology for over a decade, writing for PCWorld, TechHive, and elsewhere. He also publishes two newsletters, Advisorator for straightforward tech advice and Cord Cutter Weekly for saving money on TV service.