Linksys Home Network Defender - Parental Controls, Reports and Final Thoughts

Article Index
Linksys Home Network Defender
Home Networking Defender Setup
Parental Controls, Reports and Final Thoughts

Parental Controls:

While a service like OpenDNS only allows you to define parental controls for the entire network, the Home Network Defender gives you a couple of choices.  You can either do blanket coverage for your entire network or you can specify different controls for different machines on your network.  You can easily create custom rules as well that make it even more secure - or possibly allow certain sites that you frequent that may fall outside of the parental control zone you've specified.

Parental Controls - Setup
Parental Controls - Setup

 

One thing that I appreciate about the filter is that even if you should choose to use the "Adult" filter that allows Adult content, it still blocks malicious sites.  All filters block malicious sites and you've have to create a custom rule if you wanted to go to a site that is known for injecting virus', Trojans and other nasty stuff on your machine.  If you are using the included Trend Micro Anti-Virus, you should still be protected although it's not recommended.

Parental Controls - Adult
Parental Controls - Adult
Parental Controls - Kids
Parental Controls - Kids

 

After setting up the filter for "Mature Teen" I tried loading up several websites that should be blocked and they all were.  The violent filter allows a lot of content through, but sites like the one attempted below are flagrant fouls and the Home Network Defender worked just fine.

 HND - Works
HND - Works

 

If you're a parent reading this, I'm sure you'll be interested on the reporting feature.  It allows you to see which machines have been blocked the most in regards to the filters and parental controls that you have set up.  This information requires you to load up a web-page, or you can simply set up the daily report notification email and browse that at your leisure.

 Network Activity Report
Network Activity Report
 HND - Report Setup
HND - Report Setup

 

Linksys has an image of a detailed report over here if you want to see how it all breaks down.  Little Johnny is in trouble.

 

Final Thoughts:

While there are no perfect solutions for home network security, the Home Network Defender from Linksys goes a long way to fill in the gap between security and ease-of-use.  The interface looks great and is nice and simple to use.  The price of the entire solutions is pretty attractive as well.  The Home Network Defender comes bundled with four 1-year licenses for Trend Micro Anti-Virus as well as all the customization you need to keep people on your network protected from viewing inappropriate content and visiting malicious sites.  The regular price is $59.99, but is currently available for $49.99 until 60-days post launch (~ April 17, 2009).  This is a steal as the Anti-Virus alone is worth that much money.  It's not all perfect though.  In order to run "properly" a host machine needs to run a couple of processes in order to keep the Easy-Link Adviser and the reporting features working properly.   Because a router is a "dumb" device, the software is used to update the device and make sure that new sites are added to the blocked lists as they become known.

Also, you have to trust the guys at Linksys by Cisco and Trend Micro in regards to the Parental Controls.  They looked at what makes the most sense to a parent and set up the router according to the age ranges of below 13 (kids), young teen (13-15), mature teen (16-17) and adult (18+).  You may have a different set of morals and the standard parental controls may have to be tweaked.  One nice thing about the Home Network Defender is that it blocks bit torrent search sites like PirateBay, ISOHunt and others when you choose the young teen parental profile.  This is great as it helps keep your network clean from files that kids will try rip off of peer-to-peer search sites.  That being said, if you have a peer-to-peer client and files are already being downloaded, the Home Network Defender won't be able to block this content.  It merely blocks the main search engines for peer-to-peer sharing.

In the future, Linksys plans to block applications, but at this point applications have free-reign.  The Home Network Defender is a work in progress and as it stands, it's a good work that fills a large whole in Home Network Security.

Pros:

  • Unified solution for home network security
  • Easy to setup and use
  • Customizable security option
  • Comes with four licenses for Trend Micro Anti-Virus
  • Detailed reports of offending machines
  • Affordable security package

 

Cons:

  • Computer software must run on a host machine to keep the Home Network Defender Updated
  • Custom Settings are not saved to the cloud - if your router is replaced, you'll have to create all your custom rules again.
  • Many of it's features can be implemented for free with other services
  • Home Network Defender only works with certain routers.

BCCRating

 

While the Home Network Defender may not earn our Editor's Choice award because of some limited router compatibility requirements, it does in fact earn a great value award.  For $60, this piece of software will work wonders to keep you and your family - or even small office - secure, safe and protected.

 Great Value

 

I'd like to thank Linksys for sending out this piece of software to evaluate and for answering all of my questions on the phone.  If you have any questions, please drop them in the forum at the "Comments" link below.