Calix Raises The Stakes In Home Network Security

By Patrick Moorhead - July 8, 2021
Graphic representing different vectors for cyberattack within the smart home. PIQSELS.COM

It wasn’t too long ago things were looking stark for the globe. Though we’re still dealing with the fallout of the COVID pandemic, vaccines are rolling out at a fever pitch in the United States and several other regions of the world. There is a reason to be optimistic for the remainder of 2021 and beyond.

It’s vital to remember, however, that there will always be new challenges facing society. The cybersecurity space will be at the forefront of many of these. While the pandemic raged over the past 18 months, the world was confronted with a different type of contagion: cyber threats. The number of cyber-attacks on businesses increased substantially over the last year, with reported increases as high as 90%.

Cybersecurity remains very much in today’s headlines. Within the past two months, a ransomware attack on a large pipeline created a gasoline shortage in many cities in the Southeast, while another attacked a meat distributor, causing food prices to increase. While these two incidents gained public attention, many ransomware attacks don’t get that same visibility; many organizations sweep such events under the rug to avoid public embarrassment and bad press.

One trend that’s led to this uptick in cybercrime is the mainstreaming of remote work models. While it represents a net positive, practical new approach for both employers and employees, it has simultaneously created new attack vectors for cybercrime at home.

One company that has stepped up to meet these new home cybersecurity challenges is Calix. The San Jose-based company enjoys strong relationships with numerous service providers who operate on both a national and small community scale. The company’s wide range of solutions helps service providers simplify their business and motivate their subscribers with offerings that add value, peace of mind and investment optimization.

In a podcast I recently hosted, Calix’s Megan Powell, Director of Product Marketing, laid out Calix’s value proposition in the home network security realm. Powell observed that its service provider customers are increasingly offering more value-add premium services with Calix’s Wi-Fi equipment to facilitate the best possible wireless coverage and performance. However, despite the preliminary success of these initiatives, many service providers struggle with delivering high-caliber home network security solutions due to the dynamic nature of the problem and the expertise needed to create best-in-class solutions.

Calix believes privacy should be the highest priority in today’s homes. Powell remarke, “Bad actors don’t have to pick your lock or breakthrough your door to get into your home… they can get in through your connected devices.” Indeed, this challenge is a significant one; many consumers don’t realize that an unsecured connected device in your home is tantamount to leaving your front door unlocked and open.

Given this dynamic, Calix’s approach in the home security space focuses on home Wi-Fi network security rather than security at the device level. Let’s face it: with the introduction of smart speakers, doorbells, thermostats, and many other devices, the typical home Wi-Fi network is now more complex and challenging to manage than ever. As a result, today’s home networks have become increasingly vulnerable to cyberattacks; sometimes unbeknownst to users until it’s too late. Phishing scams, sophisticated malware iterations and cross-site scripting attacks represent enormous cyber risks at the home network level.

Calix’s answer to the cybersecurity threat is concentrating on the residential gateway. After all, by embedding security firmware on the residential gateway, all personal and smart devices on the network are protected from external threats. This approach is particularly pragmatic because most consumers who use their own routers update the firmware rarely. Router manufacturers don’t make it easy for customers, with their often expensive support calls. Calix’s “whole home” protection strategy simplifies security by not requiring any additional devices to manage.

Calix's smart app. CALIX

One other advantage that Calix provides subscribers with is a collection of intuitive, managed Wi-Fi smartphone apps: CommandIQ, ExperienceIQ and ProtectIQ. These apps efficiently manage controls on an individual device basis, monitoring security activities and setting parental controls to shield children from harmful and inappropriate content.

Some closing thoughts

While recent ransomware attacks have generated much publicity, few consumers have taken the appropriate steps to secure their home network. With typical households reporting an average of 12 connected devices in their homes today (a number that is expected to rise to 20 by 2025), the unlocked front door analogy is not hyperbole.

While more technically sophisticated users might prefer standalone VPNs and individually purchased routers to manage their home network security, most mainstream users will choose service providers who can administer this activity in a centralized, integrated manner. Parental control at a device level is a highly desirable usage model that families want and need. The sheer “worry-free” convenience of having home network security managed by a service provider has enormous appeal with many mainstream consumers.

Calix should be applauded for allowing a service provider to do what it does best: offer home network security solutions that eliminate angst and promote end-user safety. With cybersecurity risks growing at a seemingly unprecedented level, Calix is setting a refreshingly high bar.

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Patrick founded the firm based on his real-world world technology experiences with the understanding of what he wasn’t getting from analysts and consultants. Ten years later, Patrick is ranked #1 among technology industry analysts in terms of “power” (ARInsights)  in “press citations” (Apollo Research). Moorhead is a contributor at Forbes and frequently appears on CNBC. He is a broad-based analyst covering a wide variety of topics including the cloud, enterprise SaaS, collaboration, client computing, and semiconductors. He has 30 years of experience including 15 years of executive experience at high tech companies (NCR, AT&T, Compaq, now HP, and AMD) leading strategy, product management, product marketing, and corporate marketing, including three industry board appointments.