Digital Life

'Plug n' play hub' is a router that makes a safe Wi-Fi network just for kids

Would you pay $100 for a kids only Wi-Fi network?

That is the inspiration behind the plug n' play hub, a wireless router that creates a separate, pre-filtered internet for your kids.

The plug n' play hub allows inappropriate site and content to be blocked and time limits to be set on certain sites, ...
The plug n' play hub allows inappropriate site and content to be blocked and time limits to be set on certain sites, without affecting parent Wi-Fi. Photo: Claire Connelly

The device is designed to take the hard-work out of keeping children safe online by delivering only safe Google, YouTube results and internet webpages.

The router is developed by Securly, which creates cloud-based internet security products for K-12 schools. The plug n' play is a departure from traditional parental control solutions which usually involve multiple pieces of software and manual configuration. All parents have to do in this case is plug the hub into their modem or router and the network will be ready for kids' devices to start using straight away.

CEO and founder Vinay Mahadik began developing the hub after watching his seven-year-old nephew stumble across an inappropriate YouTube video on his iPad.

With most households containing multiple internet connected devices, Mahadik says he realised that security and filtering software was no longer a viable solution.

"We quickly found that no one had solved this problem for schools and for homes," he said. "Since then, we spent almost three years perfecting our solution with the toughest market you can serve — K-12 schools where the stakes and standards are as high as they get for filtering services."

The plug n' play hub comes pre-configured with Securly's primary and secondary DNS server addresses on the router so that all parents need to do is plug it into their existing home network.

"All of the kids' devices are instantly secured from a single Plug N Play device," Mahadik says.

Parents concerned about privacy will be relieved to know that they have complete control over the device which does not attempt to monitor or filter parental control.

The plug n' play uses natural language processing across searches and social media posts to identify the potential for cyber-bullying and self-harm.

It also provides time-based policies and a "pause button for the internet" to instantly take all devices offline.

How does it work?

The plug n' play uses YouTube's DNS based restricted-mode which works over both HTTP and HTTPS.

It also uses a firewall to prevent users from configuring and accessing alternative DNS servers from their device.

"The plug n' play uses the cloud-based DNS and web-proxy layers we use to protect millions of K-12 students today," Madaik says. "This means, you can pick up any iPad or laptop in the house, and expect that YouTube will serve safe videos, Google will serve safe search results, and your son will never accidentally stumble upon an inappropriate website."

The device combines a DNS and web-proxy service. The DNS decides which sites to allow, block or proxy. For the sites like YouTube, Google or Wikipedia the device inspects pages granularly for keywords, URLs, etc that may be harmful.

"All of this is traditionally done on appliances deployed by schools or inside software installed on home computers," says Mahadik. "However, we are the only players who operate entirely in the cloud which allows us to scale infinitely, and have this unified layer that applies to both schools and homes."

The cloud operations are built entirely by Securly and are patent-pending. The plug n' play hub is white-labelled OEM hardware. The company is also forming partnerships with other Wi-Fi router vendors and ISPs.

Unfortunately the device is not yet available in Australia, but Mahadik says the company is exploring its options in regards to international distributors and thus will be available "shortly".

"The retail price will very likely be the equivalent of $US99 ($144)," he says.

READ ALSO:

Follow Digital Life on Twitter

8 comments