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The Lowdown on Lockdown

We ask a sampling of network technology leaders how they make their systems secure.

Even if you didn’t read last issue’s cover story on cybersecurity (but really, why didn’t you? It’s online — complete with a summary video if you don’t want to read the whole piece. Check it out), you know that keeping your customers’ networks both robust and secure is of paramount importance.

You are not the only one who knows that – network manufacturers are keenly aware of this, too. We reached out to a few technology leaders and asked them how they make sure their products work flawlessly for their users – and only their users. Their answers may come in handy the next time your customers ask about how secure their system is.

Networking Case Study: Using Open Mesh to improve WiFi

Savant recently unveiled its Central Management cloud-based integrator tool (accessed by mobile device, PC, or Mac) that delivers secure access to every Savant deployment, according to the company. This includes software revision tracking, remote diagnostics, time/date stamped systems logs, host maintenance and configuration capabilities.

At the core of Savant Central Management is the capability to protect the integrator and their clients with permission-based secure access. With Savant Central Management, integrators can create internal access tiers – allowing limited access to a client’s home and data.

When asked for a further explanation, a Savant company spokesperson offers: “Network resiliency and security are two core fundamentals of the Savant Cloud Services (SCS) that power remote connections to our systems. Each API request to Savant Cloud Services (SCS), the Savant host, and our Pro 8 app utilizes encryption to ensure all communications and data transmissions are secure across internal and external networks. This is true for all Savant cloud communication regardless of transport methodology. In addition to encryption, all cloud requests are authenticated and we use multiple authorization schemes depending on the origin of the request. All passwords use one-way encryption and salting prior to being stored, and we never keep or use plain-text passwords anywhere. We also use third-party penetration testing to locate issues and security monitoring software to continuously monitor for malicious or unauthorized behavior.”

Access Networks
From Access Networks comes Access Networks Wireless – a new product line of access points and a wireless controller, powered by Ruckus, plus the addition of custom Core Systems. This system, according to Haley Patterson, director of business development at Access Networks, gives “integrators an excellent opportunity to enhance their projects with a range of enterprise-grade networks that both better secure and support tech-centric residential environments.”

On the cybersecurity front, Core Systems include one year of proactive Access Networks Live Monitoring service, which gives integrators the opportunity to generate recurring monthly revenue and exceed their clients’ expectations with a high level of proactive customer service where the Access Networks team is the first line of defense.

Access Networks’ price points are also now more accessible. “While understanding price point is certainly (still) driving the conversation, it shouldn’t be the motivating factor in the final buying decision,” adds Patterson. “Meaning, the integrator’s role in being a solutions provider is to make the right decisions about the gear being sourced and integrated so as to always provide the right product for the project. Performance and security must remain top of mind and at the forefront of every AV installation. That’s why Access Networks has introduced Core Systems, a solution that provides enterprise-grade standards at a lower entry cost that can scale with the needs of the homeowner.”

Depending on the size and design requirements of the home, Control4’s Pakedge offers a variety of networking solutions that are designed to meet the requirements of every size connected home. For small homes that may have a small footprint but still require heavy bandwidth and streaming support of several IoT and mobile devices, Control4 recommends the WR-1 wireless router as the right solution. For medium to large homes, Pakedge delivers the complete network platform, consisting of the RK-1 router, SE Series unmanaged and SX Series managed switches, dual-band 802.11ac WK Series access points, and PowerPak 9 power distribution unit with built-in power surge to deliver what the company calls a “fast, reliable, and robust network.”

But how does it handle cybersecurity?

A statement from the company recommends the integrator takes precautions when setting up the system, but also offers their own solution: “For Control4 dealers, the ability to remotely manage and monitor their customers’ networks is equally important to deploying a robust network. Pakedge delivers the remote management and monitoring platform BakPak, which helps dealers proactively manage, monitor, configure, and troubleshoot all of their customers’ networks. BakPak is built into multiple Pakedge products at no additional cost, so it’s easy for dealers to delivery on any project. With BakPak, dealers can receive real-time alerts when problems occur, remotely power cycle devices, and efficiently troubleshoot a problem before a homeowner even realizes there was a problem.”

One of Luxul’s latest product is its Epic 5 router (ABR-5000), which is now shipping and includes Domotz remote management software. With the Domotz technology, integrators receive alerts when network issues arise, allowing them to take immediate action. The Epic 5 also shares the device information with Luxul’s support team to assist in troubleshooting. According to the company, “The router also eliminates the need to purchase a separate Luxul Domotz Pro for remote management. This lowers network costs and speeds setup, improving the bottom line for integrators while providing a better experience for their clients.”

The Epic 5 also lets the user play a part in the system’s security – the Router Limits feature offers cloud-based controls for internet safety and management, giving users complete control of every aspect of their internet experience, letting them manage screen time, filter content, and track browsing history. Router Limits users can also control mobile devices’ access to the internet when they leave the home network.

When we asked WhyReboot’s president Bjørn Jensen for a comment on his system’s security, he had plenty to say:

“The bad guys continuously evolve, and so do we. This is why we have trusted SonicWALL as our go-to network security appliance. More than just a router, SonicWALLs are singularly focused at protecting against threats from outside and inside of the network. Over the years, our engineering teams have worked tirelessly to ensure that our partner’s networks have just the right amount of security to protect against the vast majority of threats without causing a restricted end-user experience.

“Additionally, we highly recommend to our partners that they never open ports on the firewall, though we maintain and support these systems as needed. If asked to open ports, we first carefully review the written request and then check the desired effect against Computer Vulnerabilities and Exploits (CVEs). Typically, we recommend against opening ports in favor of using a secure VPN service instead, and most of our partners have the savvy and experience to heed our warnings. As a result, when thousands of camera systems were hacked a few months back, most of our partners were unaffected.”