Cujo smart fire­wall

£79 | $99 A smart fire­wall that pro­tects all your de­vices from the lat­est threats

Windows Help & Advice - - CONTENTS -

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.

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