CES 2019: Comcast launches digital security service to protect smart devices

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Someday, someone will invent some kind of unified field that makes all the crazy smart devices we write about here at Digital Trends talk to each other in a way that makes sense. In the meantime, smart home enthusiasts are still stuck piecing together a network of smart home devices that are often dependent on a specific company’s ecosystem of products (we’re looking at you, Apple, Google, and Amazon). One of the big risks of a monster mash of networked products is the wide variety of security openings that smart home devices might provide to black hat hackers.

Now at CES 2019, Comcast wants to introduce a new digital security service whose purpose is to monitor and protect devices to eliminate those threats via a seamless, intuitive service running behind the company’s Xfinity Advanced Gateways — all-in-one devices that deliver Internet and Voice connectivity, whole-home Wi Fi coverage, and network control.

The new service is called Xfinity XFi Advanced Security and apparently Comcast’s new gizmo uses artificial intelligence (A.I.) and machine learning technology — based on an A.I. platform developed by A.I. Security company Cujo AI — to monitor and analyze Wi-Fi traffic in a smart home and automatically block identified suspicious activity in real time.

“As the digital world gets more complex, we wanted to make it simple and easy for our customers to protect their home networks. That’s why we developed xFi Advanced Security,” said Fraser Stirling, Senior Vice President of Digital Home, Devices and A.I. for Comcast Cable in a release. “We want to give customers digital peace of mind for the devices they already own and the confidence to expand and evolve their connected homes knowing that every new camera, voice-assisted speaker, or smart thermostat they add will be protected.”

In a surprising twist for the smart home market, the new xFi Advanced Security service doesn’t have to be installed, configured or otherwise adjusted in a way that requires another excruciating call to Comcast customer support. Protection is automatically extended to any device that is connected to the home network wirelessly or by ethernet. Comcast is also giving customers a dashboard that can be viewed online or on a mobile device that displays a list of digital security-related actions that were taken each day.

There are also a few tools users can employ to tinker with their smart home setup. xFi Advanced Security customers can see what devices are connected to the network, get notifications about security activity, set parental controls and even pause Wi-Fi access to specific devices during dinnertime or bedtime. Comcast is also trying to ensure a wide enough network by offering xFi pods, which are small devices that plug into any electrical outlet and extend connectivity to remote areas of the home.

The new service is available to any Comcast customer who rents an xFi Gateway, at a price of $6 per month, or as part of a cable package in some markets.

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