Integrator Collects $1,000 Per Year for Digital Security in Smart Homes
Home-technology integrator sells FireFX Network Guardian appliance with cybersecurity protection for smart homes, charging $800 to $1,500 per year for service -- good for RMR, and a virtual insurance policy for the dealer.
LED Systems has finally found a service that smart-home clients are willing to pay for: network security. The Frisco, Texas-based integration company uses Network Guardian from FireFX to keep networks safe from hackers, viruses, inappropriate content and other woes.
FireFX, known mostly for its Fire-TV media servers, launched the cybersecurity solution earlier this year, charging dealers an annual fee that includes a “digital concierge service,” tier 1 support, 24/7 device monitoring, active content filtering and twice-daily “emerging threat pattern updates” for intrusion detection and prevention, according to FireFX CEO Larry Allhands.
“We encourage dealers to sell this as a digital version of their physical security system,” he says, “and to send PDF reports from our appliance monthly with their statements so they can see what attacks have been blocked.”
LED Systems is doing just that. A high-end integration company for the last 18 years, LED started to focus on networking about five years ago, becoming Cisco- and CEDIA-certified networking specialists.
LED principal Lewis Franke says he rarely gets pushback from clients when selling networking solutions, including cybersecurity services. When he talks about protecting kids, thwarting viruses, and otherwise securing the home from corrupting forces both inside and outside of the home … it’s hard to resist.
“It’s like electricity or plumbing,” Franke says. “They’ve gotta have it.”
In fact, selling digital security products and services is a whole lot easier than selling TVs or touchpanels, according to Franke. “We’ve had maybe 90-percent buy-in” for the security offering.
It’s something that most users can relate to, Franke explains: “Amazingly, I know 100 people right now who have had some sort of issue with the latest virus, or had their ID stolen, or their credit card used.”
FireFX protects against that.
Both parents and kids might plug in infected USB sticks from friends, school or work, unwittingly corrupting the local computer, the home network and everything connected to it.
FireFX will automatically shut down the port until the connected device is checked for viruses and other threats.
In fact, FireFX will shut down any port “if there’s any suspicious activity on the network,” Franke says. “If Mr. Jones is going to be logging in from Bangkok, he lets the system know to expect frequent logins from there.”
What Franke really likes about FireFX that he hasn’t seen from other providers is to show the client in real-time where and when attacks are occurring.
Like Insurance for the Network
The proliferation of networked devices and cloud services presents way too many cyber risks to ignore, according to Franke.
“You’ve got all these devices, all wanting downloadable content or VPNs from the office,” he says. “Or some clown from the service provider installs multiple routers, no wireless access points, and no protection. When clients are doing multimillion-dollar transactions over a VPN, they need protection.”
FireFX’s Guardian, with its on-board VPN server, will protect and route the content, Franke explains. He says LED Systems hasn’t had “a single issue where the client was comprised” since the company started spec’ing the security appliance.
A robust, protected network doesn’t come cheap. The Guardian box costs about $1,000 to $1,500 including a one-year license for services. A high-performance network itself, including multiple wireless access points, could run $5,000 to $10,000. FireFX service might cost the homeowner between $800 and $1,500 per year.
Franke says he has over 30 FireFX clients since launching the service just a few months ago.
It isn’t just a money-maker, Franke says, but sort of an insurance policy for the company: “If we’re in charge of the network or data, we may be liable for a breach.”
Simple and Secure
The price of FireFX protection is comparable to other solutions. “Good firewalls can be really expensive,” Franke says, “and they’re hugely complicated to configure.”
On the other hand, “This was easy to set up,” he says. “It’s all preconfigured. You can download reports, show clients where attacks are, what’s being blocked, what IP addresses are blacked out …. It’s really, really simple.”
Users can implement many of the tools themselves, including parental controls.
For its part, FireFX’s service plan includes:
- Concierge service for advanced configurations
- Tier 1 network support
- 24/7 monitoring of device health in the field
- Active content filtering
- Twice-daily emerging thread pattern updates for intrusion detection and prevention.
“In addition to this, dealers enjoy the ability to VPN security to all of their customer networks,” Allhands says. “They’re also encouraged to extend this secure remote connectivity to clientele, which minimizes or illuminates dangerous port forwarding.”
RELATED: Who Will Own the Home Cybersecurity Market - Security Dealers, Home-Automation Pros, Comcast?
Julie Jacobson, recipient of the 2014 CEA TechHome Leadership Award, is co-founder of EH Publishing, producer of CE Pro, Electronic House, Commercial Integrator, Security Sales and other leading technology publications. She currently spends most of her time writing for CE Pro in the areas of home automation, security, networked A/V and the business of home systems integration. Julie majored in Economics at the University of Michigan, spent a year abroad at Cambridge University, earned an MBA from the University of Texas at Austin, and has never taken a journalism class in her life. She's a washed-up Ultimate Frisbee player currently residing in Carlsbad, Calif. Email Julie at [email protected]
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