Monday, 30 July 2018 12:44

Symantec's new Norton Core secure Wi-Fi router now on sale at Harvey Norman

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Dubbed as potentially "the most important piece of digital equipment in Australian homes in 2018", Symantec says its Core router is "the solution to help keep cyber criminals out of Australian homes".

A router that can secure all of the connected devices in your home is the new battleground for protection, as it is no longer simply your computer, smartphone and tablet that needs protection, but everything that has a wired or wireless connection to your Internet connection.

This includes IoT devices, and we've seen Trend Micro, a competitor to Symantec's Norton Core, come out with similar sounding protection as iTWire looked at in January 2017.

That said, Trend Micro's Home Network Security device works with existing routers, rather than replacing them entirely as Norton's Core does, with Norton explaining that a core feature of Core is that it is a vastly more security Wi-Fi router than the router you are already using, whether provided by your ISP or one you've purchased from elsewhere.

Indeed, Symantec explains it best itself, saying that Norton Core is in response "to the rapid uptake of Internet of Things devices in the home and the cybersecurity vulnerabilities they present" and is "a high-performance, high-speed Wi-Fi router that makes digital security the primary feature".

Emphasising this further is the statement that Norton Core is "built from the ground up with security in mind and leveraging Symantec’s decades of experience in cyber security" and "employs multiple layers of defence to help keep hackers out while simultaneously protecting users’ data and their connected devices on their home network".

The company explains that "Internet-connected households need a digital safety solution to protect their networks and the connected devices powering their homes. IoT devices are quickly becoming preferred targets of cyber criminals.

"Symantec’s Internet Security Threat Report Volume 23 (2018) reported a 600% increase worldwide in IoT attacks in 2017 alone, and more than six million Australians were affected by cyber crime in the same year, per the 'Norton Cyber Security Insights Report (2017)'.

"Routers and devices with routing capabilities were the most targeted IoT devices, accounting for nearly half (47.1%) of the IoT attacks, according to the 2018 ISTR.

"Recently, the VPNFilter malware infected more than half a million routers in more than 50 countries allowing attackers to snoop on the user’s Web traffic, perform man-in-the-middle attacks, collect login credentials and other sensitive information from the user’s Wi-Fi network, and even brick the router rendering it useless."

Symantec also notes that VPNFilter malware is now targeting even more router brands, with a list on how to check if you're affected here being another reason why Norton suggests Core is a better way to provide home security by replacing your router with Norton's Core rather than adding protection to your existing router.

The company has also published more information on the VPNFilter Malware here, nothing that it is "New router malware with destructive dapabilities". 

So, this is why Symantec developed Norton Core – it was "designed to defend against these cyber threats and the others targeting home networks", and since its release in the US in 2017, it has "blocked over 90 million threats".

Mark Gorrie, senior director, Norton Consumer Business Unit, Symantec Pacific Region, said: "Smart TVs, routers, connected alarms, locks, baby monitors and other IoT devices all make life easier – but they also represent new vulnerabilities because their design lacks even some basic safeguards.

“The router manages the Internet traffic going to and from all the devices. It may in fact be one of the most important pieces of digital equipment in your home, but it may also be the weakest link in your digital security chain. Norton Core is an investment for peace of mind when it comes to digital safety for the whole family.”

As Symantec explains, "Norton Core helps protects home networks — and the devices connected to it, including computers and mobile devices — from malware, viruses, hackers, and cyber criminals.

"The innovative router offers customisable parental controls to allow parents the flexibility to set parameters that work for their family. Daily screen time limits for each child, filters for accessible content, and an internet pause button are some of the features parents can use to support a harmonious household.

"Designed in the form of a geodesic dome and inspired by defence and weather radars deployed in the extreme reaches of the globe, Norton Core’s unique mathematical design encourages users to place it out in the open, as part of their home décor which adds to improved range and coverage".

So, what's more detail to explain Norton Core's digital safety in its high-performance router?

Well, "unlike conventional routers, Norton Core was built specifically with security in mind to help protect connected homes. With deep packet inspection and intelligence from a global threat database, Norton Core can help fend off threats before they infiltrate a home network. Norton Core brings the benefit of speed, comprehensive Wi-Fi coverage and reliability along with these additional key product features":

  • State-of-the-art Security – at the network level: Norton Core keeps your devices and home network protected. With its network-level protection, Norton Core uses deep packet inspection to check all traffic it deems untrusted or risky, and it provides protection against possible intrusions with its intrusion detection and prevention engines.
  • A highly secure router – From comprehensive data encryption to real-time software updates, Norton Core fundamentally changes the equation to extend protection to Wi-Fi routers.
  • Smart parental controls – Flexible, powerful tools for parents to monitor and manage screen time for each child, control time limits by device, and set content filters. The entire network can even be paused.
  • Security score – Provides users with a readout on their network’s weaknesses and timely insights and advice on ways to improve their score.
  • Bandwidth optimisation – Gives priority to any device or activity in the house with the touch of a button, so a movie can quickly be prioritised over a game console.
  • Guest access – Create secure guest networks easily, with time limits. When time is up, users can simply extend access or let the guest network disappear.

What's the price and availability?

"Norton Core is exclusively available for purchase in Australia at Harvey Norman nationwide for A$399.

"Purchase of Norton Core, available in Granite Grey, comes bundled with a one-year subscription to Norton Core Security Plus, which covers your connected devices at home and up to 10 desktops, laptops and mobile devices."

As explained in my earlier article on the Norton Core router from Australia's CeBIT 2018 event in May, the cost after the first year to maintain the security of the Norton Core router and the 10 copies of Norton Security software is A$17.99 per month, which is A$215.88 per year, and as such is a great deal for modern households.

That article also featured a transcript of the media briefing that Norton Core team leader Bruce McCorkendale gave, as well as a video of Symantec chief executive Dr Hugh Thompson giving an excellent keynote speech on security, along with a video interview with Gavin Lowth, Symantec APJ Consumer Business Unit vice-president.

iTWire looks forward to reviewing Norton Core in the not-too-distant future.

Norton Core has also received a stack of industry accolades and awards, which include:

  • Wall Street Journal Best of CES 2017
  • CNET All the Cool New Gadgets at CES 2017
  • ZDNet Best Smart Home, IoT Products of CES 2017
  • Techlicious Top Picks of CES 2017 Awards
  • Tom’s Guide CES 2017 Awards, Best New Tech
  • 2017 Edison Best New Product Awards, Silver, Wireless Solutions

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Alex Zaharov-Reutt

One of Australia’s best-known technology journalists and consumer tech experts, Alex has appeared in his capacity as technology expert on all of Australia’s free-to-air and pay TV networks on all the major news and current affairs programs, on commercial and public radio, and technology, lifestyle and reality TV shows. Visit Alex at Twitter here.

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