Cujo: A New Way to Bring Business-Level Security to Home

Security expert Bruce Schneier has said that someone, somewhere “is learning how to take down the Internet” using distributed-denial-of-service attacks. Hackers are evaluating servers around the world to identify the Internet’s weak points and the most effective ways of bringing it down. There comes Cujo.

Recently, the Internet infrastructure company Dyn was attacked by hackers. Users around the world felt it as their favorite sites were inaccessible and had trouble reaching several prominent websites, including Twitter, Netflix, Spotify, Airbnb, Reddit, Etsy, and SoundCloud. The trends that led to this attack mean that we’re only going to have larger and more frequent attacks in the future.

What is the Internet of Things (IoT)?

Nowadays, most electronic devices have internet connectivity. Whether it’s your thermostat, IP camera, baby monitor, or smart TV, it probably connects to the web. As most things get smart technology built into them, there are an ever increasing number of devices on the internet, and it’s called the Internet of Things.

The problem is that a lot of the companies making these devices don’t have security as a priority. Security is often an afterthought while businesses focus on delivering products to customers quickly and at a low price.

What is malware?

Malware is short for malicious software. It’s an umbrella term used to refer to a variety of hostile software, including viruses, worms, trojans, ransomware, spyware, adware, scareware, and other malicious programs.

Hackers can use malware to scan the internet looking for vulnerable devices. Insecure IoT devices, like IP cameras and digital video recorders, enabled the recent Mirai attack. Once the sensitive device is detected, it can be infected with malware and sit dormant until it is commanded to participate in an attack.

What is a distributed-denial-of-service (DDoS) attack?

Imagine that your favorite website is like your favorite restaurant. If it’s a popular place, it will have plenty of capacity. You’re always able to find a table and be served. But what if someone was able to gather a large mob of people and fill that restaurant to capacity? You wouldn’t be able to get in.

How can a hacker assemble a mob? Well, remember all of those IoT devices, there’s hundred of thousands or millions of exposed devices on the internet. That number is rapidly growing, and hackers are getting more sophisticated. Therefore, unless something is done, we’re in for a world of hurt as DDoS attacks get larger and more frequent.

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What is the Domain Name System (DNS)?

Without getting overly technical, DNS is the addressing system for the Internet. It makes domains like .com’s and .org’s work. It allows computers to find each other. There are a few companies that provide a significant portion of this service. It takes resources to run, so when hackers focus on it with a massive DDoS attack, consisting of hundreds of thousands or millions of IoT devices, it can disrupt the internet for a lot of people.

Why antivirus and traditional firewalls aren’t enough

Antivirus only works on the computers it is installed on. While you can install antivirus on your laptop, there’s no antivirus for your iPhone or any IoT device such as a camera or DVR. So, a simple analogy is that antivirus is like a pill you take after you get infected. What CUJO does is it acts like an immune system for your entire network, keeping your devices from getting infected in the first place or, if they are already infected, blocking the malware and effectively quarantining it.

Most home firewalls aren’t very robust and use simple rules-based protection schemes that are ineffective. There are powerful enterprise-grade firewalls, but those are too expensive for home users. Therefore, CUJO brings business-level security to the home.

CUJO is an important part of the solution

Security needs to be considered at every layer, whether it’s old fashioned security like locking your door or the newest form of encryption when sending sensitive data. People need  When looking at the recent DDoS attacks enabled by networks of infected IoT devices, we need to protect things at the network layer.

This is where CUJO comes in. It doesn’t require other device manufacturers to be security experts. CUJO connects to an existing network and protects all devices on it. Furthermore, it prevents devices from being infected by DDoS malware and would keep already infected devices from participating in DDoS attacks. If everyone had a CUJO, DDoS attacks, such as those that we recently felt, would be a thing of the past.

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