Hey gang, Valkor here. As we increase the number of connected devices in our homes, the need to protect them from cyber attacks also increases. So what can one do to ensure their systems aren't compromised? Well, here at TOV, we’ve tested two devices – the Bitdefender BOX and CUJO that can do a fair job in securing your home network; but then steps in newcomer Bullguard with their entry into the field – the Dojo. So, how does it match up to the other two? I think by that editor’s choice award, it fares quite well. And if I must say, it works better than the aforementioned devices.
Bullguard’s Dojo is a two-part system that consists of a base, which plugs into your router and a pebble that handles all of the security functions; the pebble isn’t tied down to the base and can be placed just about anywhere within your household. The only downside to the pebble is that it uses AA batteries, which so far, last a decent amount of time (going on two weeks continuously), but they still need to be replaced. But I think a rechargeable battery would work out much better. Once you’ve plugged in the base and the pebble is up and running, you simply install the app, link it via Bluetooth to your smartphone, connect it to your wi-fi network, and watch as all of your devices begin to populate.
There are a couple of additional steps you need to know before you plug and go. First, you’ll have to gain access to your router and disable its DHCP function. And second, you’ll need to reboot all of your devices so that the Dojo can properly assign them to the category of your choosing (Smart Home, Personal Devices, Guest, and Unprotected – everything starts in the “unprotected” section until you assign them elsewhere). In my case, I didn’t disable the DHCP function of my Verizon FIOS router. But once I rebooted my devices, everything seems to populate as I desired and DOJO proceeded to do its thing. And what it does is it monitors your network, ensuring that your connected devices such as computers, smartphones, tablets, and other tech aren’t accessing malicious sites or being accessed from an external source.
Once Dojo was fully set up, it straightaway began sending me alerts; first, of all the new devices it discovered and then notifying me that one device or another was attempting to access a malicious site. You’ll not only get notification on your phone, but you’ll get a visual alert from the pebble, which will change color depending on the status of your network - Green is all clear, Yellow means the Dojo has detected that one of your devices is accessing something it’s not supposed to, and Red means you need to access the app to figure out what’s up. So far I have yet to experience a red alert, but I’ve seen plenty of yellow. I also got a blue, which confused the hell out of me, since there was nothing in the documentation about it or could I find anything online. However, I learned that I got the blue light because the base was not powered on since the outlet it was connected to is also connected to a wall switch that was switched off. So if you see blue, you’ll know that it's probably the base.
Finally, I tested out Dojo’s stopping power on my laptop or rather how well it keeps anyone in my “protected zone” from wandering off the beaten path. I’ll admit, I tend to wander into some gray areas of the interwebz; but I’m usually pretty well secured with a firewall, antivirus, malware software, and even an ad blocker (because some of those ads can be pretty sketchy). But once I connected to one of those sketchy pages, Dojo immediately kicked in notifying me with the app and a web page alert telling me that I’ve stepped into the wrong part of town. The pic below is very related. This is a good thing, especially if you’re in a home with children or anyone who isn’t tech savvy. You don't have to worry about them damaging your system by contracting a virus or having whatever personal information you have stored on your computer compromised.
Bullguard’s Dojo comes with one year of service for free; after that, it’s $99 a year or ten bucks a month. It works when the battery is low or dead since the base is still connected. And you can even get alerts when you’re not at home. But ultimately, is Dojo worth the investment?
Absolutely! First up, the Dojo was very easy to set up as right out the box I was up and running with no real issue. However, if you happen to run into any trouble, Bullguard has a customer service line that’s ready to assist. I haven’t needed them yet, but I’ll keep that number handy just in case. However, I have to say that this is a positive for the Dojo since I ran into too many snags with the Bitdefender BOX and getting it hooked up to my Verizon FIOS router. Next up, the Dojo sends out plenty of notifications, giving you a heads up with what’s going on and what devices have entered your network. I actually went a bit nuts adding devices to see if Dojo would pick it up. And sure enough, it picked up each device with no problem, allowing me to add them to my preferred zone. Finally, and this is most important, the level of protection Dojo offers appears to be on point, especially when it comes to web browsing. But if it can keep malicious activities from entering or leaving my network, then I can’t complain about its job performance. And I’m less worried about any of my connected devices being compromised. In the end, I’m really impressed with the Dojo; it’s quick and easy to setup and does a great job adding a much-needed layer of security to your network.
The first issue I ran into with Dojo is with the alerts. Or to be more specific, when I got an alert that one of my devices was accessing a malicious site (My Samsung Galaxy S8+), it doesn’t go into detail as to which app might be the problem. This might be OK for someone who won’t mind the alerts, knowing that the Dojo is doing its thing. But for those of us who prefer to go a little deeper, it’s somewhat of an annoyance. I mean you want the alerts to stop eventually, rather than getting them over and over again. Finally, and this has happened only a couple of times. But there were times when Dojo would move a device from the protected zone to unprotected. I’m not sure why it does that (it might be due to the fact that I didn't disable DHCP); I can understand if I take a device out of my network that it might move. But multiple devices, especially ones that don’t go anywhere like my Chromecast, is unacceptable. Hopefully that’s something that can be fixed in an update. Thus far, this problem has not repeated. At least not yet.
If you’ve got a home filled with connected devices and in need of cyber protection, then you’ll want to add Bullguard’s DOJO to the fold; It gives you peace of mind 24/7, ensuring that your network is safe from outside threats. So, out of TOV 5 stars, I’m giving Bullguard’s DOJO a 4.5.