Cujo smart firewall
£79 | $99 wwww.getcujo.com A smart firewall that protects all your devices from the latest threats
Cujo is an intelligent firewall which aims to protect your connected home from online threats. From desktops to mobiles, tablets to smart TVs, Cujo monitors all network activity to help keep you safe from harm.
Once set up, Cujo acts as a gateway between your devices and the outside world. It checks devices as they connect to your network, analyses data packets as they leave and arrive, looks for attempts to access malware command-and-control servers and tests for man-in-the-middle attacks. Threats are blocked automatically, although you can also see and control some of what’s happening via the free Cujo app for iOS and Android.
Cujo is much more than a simple hardware firewall though. A lot of its processing is carried out in the cloud, where it analyses metadata from your network connections, checks for problems and instructs your device to block any threats. This reduces the load on Cujo’s processor, and makes it easier for the system to detect new dangers.
Despite some overblown claims on the Cujo website, the device can’t replace your anti-virus, and you’ll probably need to keep the same security software you’re using now. What you do get are extra layers of protection, and that’s welcome for smart devices that can’t be shielded in other ways.
Cujo is available for £79 ($99), plus a monthly subscription of £7.20 ($9); or you can pay £126 ($158) and get one year of service. Alternatively, pay £199 ($249) and you’re covered forever. Whichever option you take, you’re covered by a 30-day money-back guarantee in case Cujo doesn’t work for you.
While most network devices get hidden away in a dark corner, Cujo is clearly designed to be seen. Its rounded, cream-coloured form looks almost as if it could be an air freshener, and can be left in full view without looking out of place.
Turn on the power and you’ll notice another unusual touch: Cujo has ‘eyes’, oval LEDs that light up to signify its status. At a glance you can see whether the power is on, if the device is working (or not), when it’s in standby, and even when the firmware is being updated.
This lighting scheme isn’t exactly intuitive, and you may need to check the website to understand what’s happening. But it helps you to see what’s going on, and in a way that doesn’t make Cujo intimidating. You might look at the ‘eyes’ and realise that Cujo is actively protecting current network activity, but visitors will just see a cute plastic pot with a smiley face.
What’s happening, though, presents a fundamental privacy concern. Cujo works by collecting the IP addresses of the websites you’re visiting and sends them to
the cloud, where they’re checked for any signs of danger. That ensures your protection is always up to date, but it also means any time anyone visits a website on your network, that URL is being dispatched to the Cujo cloud.
The company says it collects ‘metadata based on destination IP addresses’, but only logs ‘that the communication of your Cujo device is functioning with our cloud’. This means Cujo maintains information on the sites all users are accessing, but doesn’t keep any personally identifiable trail. It’s not ideal, but some other site-blocking apps take a similar approach.
Cujo can be very challenging to set up, even for network geeks.
You have two main options. The first – DHCP Mode – seems the simplest. Connect Cujo to your router, change your network settings to use Cujo as a gateway, and everything currently using your network will automatically be protected. In some cases, Cujo can set this up for you. Download the iOS or Android app, give the setup wizard your router credentials and it will try to update your DHCP settings. Unfortunately, Cujo is only able to configure router models it knows about. Often you’ll be told it doesn’t know enough about your hardware and you’ll be left to update the settings yourself. Things can also get complicated if your router isn’t supported.
The second option is to use Bridge Mode, which requires two routers. Your internet connection comes into router A; this connects by cable to Cujo; a second cable goes from Cujo to router B; all your devices must also connect via router B to be protected. Not everyone has two routers available,
“If anything dangerous appears, Cujo’s apps register the threat and display a notification”
of course. Even if you do, you’ll still need to disable DHCP on router B, and since some routers don’t allow DHCP settings to be changed, you won’t be able to use Cujo at all.
Once Cujo is up and running, you can carry on using your devices as normal. Your traffic is filtered through Cujo, analysed, and any threats blocked, but generally everything should work as it always did. If anything dangerous appears, Cujo’s apps register the threat and display a notification telling you more. You’ll also be warned on your local device in some situations.
Cujo also includes basic parental controls. You can create a profile, define the types of website you’d like to block, optionally add some safe sites to a whitelist, then apply those settings to a device. Simple reports show you any violations. Although all of this is useful, there are some limitations. In particular, the rules are being enforced at the network level rather than the device, so if your child takes a tablet to a friend’s house, they’ll be able to do whatever they like.
Elsewhere, the Cujo apps provide simple lists of the devices that are connected to your network. These show details like device type, manufacturer, IP address, MAC address and more. You could use this to spot devices that connect to your network only occasionally, and when they were last seen.
Demanding users might run into difficulty with more advanced requirements, such as setting up port forwarding. If your network needs are mostly about local file and device sharing, though, it’s a completely different story.
Cujo seems like a great idea: a neat-looking box you can place in your home, which protects all your smart devices without you having to do anything at all. Unfortunately, getting to this point might take a while. Setup can be complicated, and there’s a distinct shortage of technical detail about Cujo’s features, making it difficult to assess how effective the protection is.
Cujo is also too complicated for beginners, and too underpowered for experts, but it is useful if you have a lot of devices to protect. Cujo may be a convenient way to protect connected devices from attack, but setup can be tricky.