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McAfee Software Fixes Your Home Network's Sloppy Security

Antivirus giant McAfee today (Jan. 4) announced the McAfee Secure Home Platform, an embedded platform for routers and other home networking devices that's aimed at protecting the smart home from malware and hackers.

The Arris SURFboard SBG7580-AC, the first device to receive the McAfee Secure Home Platform software. Credit: Arris

(Image credit: The Arris SURFboard SBG7580-AC, the first device to receive the McAfee Secure Home Platform software. Credit: Arris)

Unlike its antivirus rivals Symantec and Bitdefender, which yesterday debuted the Norton Core security router and the second-generation Bitdefender Box network security appliance, respectively, McAfee isn't making any hardware of its own. Rather, it's offering a software solution for networking-gear makers to run on their own devices as well as an accompanying mobile app to let users manage their networks and devices.

The first gadget to run the McAfee Secure Home Platform will be the Arris SURFboard SBG7580-AC gateway, a high-end combination cable modem and router that currently retails for about $220. It's not clear if there will be an add-on price to the gateway when the platform becomes available by this summer or a subscription cost instead.

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Unlike Bitdefender and Norton, McAfee won't bundle in its own antivirus software at no extra cost to users of its secure networking solution. Rather, the platform will identify devices that don't have antivirus software, and "the user can then purchase McAfee antivirus software directly through the mobile application," according to a McAfee fact sheet.

Even without the antivirus software, users will get quite a bit of control over their home networks with the McAfee Secure Home Platform. It offers parental controls with time limits and category blocking, as well as the abilities to deny or suspend access to any device, or even put the entire network on "pause." Norton's Core router has similar features.

Starting Price: To be announced.

Available: By July 2017

Key Specs: None yet. We'd like to learn the hardware requirements for the McAfee Secure Home Platform.

What's New: This is the first embedded third-party security-software platform for home networking gear that we've heard of.

Why You Should Care: Many smart-home devices are rushed out to market without much thought given to security, and even many home Wi-Fi routers have shoddy security. If the McAfee Secure Home Platform becomes available for many devices, it could beef up security all around.

Outlook: Unclear. We'd like to learn more about the subscription costs, and whether the McAfee Secure Home Platform will be extended to more than just one device.