Malware, spyware, botnets, ransomware... These are all terms you come acrosss when reading about technology security. While you can more or less easily protect your laptops and smartphones against these nasties, the advent of connected devices - security cameras, connected thermostats and smoke alarms, smart TVs and other smart gadgets - brings new vulnerabilities which we may not always be aware of, increasing the risk of something bad happening in your network.
We know that a vast number of these connected devices come from manufacturers that don't put too much effort into security. They use old, vulnerable software, hardcoded passwords, services with no authentication requirements and so on. At any moment you could visit a website that drops a piece of malware that in turn scans your network, looking for vulnerable devices to hijack and continue from there.
Trend Micro Home Network Security is a network-connected device that brings peace of mind to small office and home users without complicated software installation or management.
The device is a small box that you plug to one of your router's ethernet ports and once activated through the smartphone app will scan all network traffic - coming from the Internet and traversing your home network. If any malware or exploit is identified, Trend Micro Home Network Security will block it and, optionally, notify you via an app notification.
The app also shows at a glance all the devices connected to your network. It's easy to create users and assign devices to individual users as well as change the devices' name and icons - this makes identifying things a lot easier. It also makes extremely easy to manage how devices and people use your network. For example, you can set website filtering and bedtime settings for kids' devices. You can also set an option to prevent network devices talking to each other, to prevent internal attacks, in addition to pure Internet threats.
Trend Micro Home Network Security is not just a box, but a service with constant updates including the box firmware, rules and the mobile app. When you buy the Tren Micro Home Network Security you also receive a two year update service included in the price. After these two years you'll pay an annual fee to keep the updates coming.
In terms of performance I have not noticed impact on the bandwidth available. On a gigabit connection I have pretty much the same speed available to my network with or without the Trend Micro Home Network Security box connected to the router. For comparison, my router's own built-in Intrusion Detection System, which can make my gigabit connection drop to 40 Mbps top speed when enabled.
There's a catch here though: currently you can't have port forward enabled on your router, as this won't work with the Trend Micro Home Network Security. It does not interfere with the router's own ports though. An example: if you have a VPN server inside your network then you won't be able to connect to it but if the VPN server runs on your router then it will work just fine. Similarly if you have a smart router with other services (such as the Synology routers) then you may not have to worry about port forward too much.
The way Trend Micro Home Network Security works seems to be by fooling the devices in your network to think it's the default network gateway, effectively receiving all traffic before it reaches the router. It seems extremely effective and in my tests it correctly identified and monitored traffic for all connected devices, not only laptops, tablets and smartphones - which means in my case smart TV, Amazon Fire TV, Chromecast, doorbell and floodlight cameras, Philips Hue and smart plugs.
As mentioned before this is not an all in one solution. Threats that arrive on a laptop via other traditional means (CD, floppy disks, external HDD, USB keys, SD cards) wouldn't be detected. To completely cover all cases you still rely on having a software-based anti-malware solution. And common sense.
Always practice safe computing!