Science & Technology

Palo Alto Networks reveals malware-detecting WiFi router

Palo Alto Networks Inc.’s newest product is the Okyo Garde, a wireless mesh router with built-in cybersecurity capabilities that enterprises can use to protect remote workers’ home networks from hacking attempts. 

The device was announced today and is expected to become available in the fall. 

Publicly traded Palo Alto Networks is one of the world’s largest cybersecurity providers. The company makes software for protecting cloud environments, firewall appliances that run in on-premises data centers and a range of other breach prevention products.

Okyo Garde (pictured) is designed to help companies secure their remote workers’ home wireless networks. An enterprise can issue Okyo Garde routers to its employees to ensure that connections through which they access work applications are secure. Workers may also use the device to create a second, separate Wi-Fi network for personal use.

Okyo Garde fends off many common types of cyberattacks, according to Palo Alto Networks. The router detects when a worker clicks on a malicious link and prevents the malicious website from loading. Okyo Garde spots phishing attempts as well and, according to the company, even provides features for blocking cyberattacks that target an employee’s smart home appliances. Palo Alto Networks protects smart home appliances by restricting their ability to establish connections with external servers that may contain malware.

Administrators can manage employees’ Okyo Garde deployments through a mobile app. The app provides controls for managing configuration settings and displays alerts for cybersecurity incidents, such if a router detects that a printer has been infected with malware.

Image of Okyo Gard with screenshot of online dashboard.

For enterprises that have broader cybersecurity requirements, Palo Alto Networks will sell an edition of Okyo Garde integrated with its Prisma Access service. Prisma Access provides controls for securing the network connections through which employees access a company’s business applications. The service encrypts employees’ data traffic, enforces zero-trust access rules to prevent unauthorized logins and uses machine learning to provide administrations with pointers on how they can improve their companies’ security.

“We quickly and quietly assembled a team of some of the best consumer tech engineers and put them together with the exceptional teams who built Palo Alto Networks top security products,” said Palo Alto Networks Executive Vice President Mario Queiroz. “The result is Okyo Garde.”

The router uses the “same technology that secures some of the world’s largest companies, banks, hospitals and the rest of our 85,000 worldwide customers,” the executive added. 

Okyo Garde will expand Palo Alto Networks’ lineup of offerings for securing employee connections to business applications in a time when such products are experiencing strong demand. It will also enable the company to more directly compete for small businesses’ cybersecurity spending. The fact that Okyo Garde deployments can be managed through a relatively easy-to-use app should make the router suitable for smaller firms with limited in-house information technology expertise.

One of Okyo Garde’s features, its mesh networking support, could potentially make the router useful for providing WiFi coverage at corporate locations such as offices. Mesh networking is a technology that links multiple WiFi devices together to provide internet access in a larger area than a single router could cover.

Okyo Garde may give Palo Alto Networks a product edge over some of the other cybersecurity providers offering software for secure employee connections to business applications. If the device proves successful, competitors may be prompted to launch rival products. 

Okyo Garde supports the latest Wi-Fi 6 wireless standard and runs on a 2.2-gigahertz quad-core chip. Palo Alto Networks says that the router has been equipped with a “large memory configuration” to accommodate its cybersecurity features and improve network performance. 

The standard version of Okyo Garde is set to begin shipping in the fall. The more advanced edition that integrates with Palo Alto Networks’ Prisma Access service is scheduled to launch in early 2022. Alongside the devices, the company plans to offer a technical support service that will allow customers to receive assistance with setting up and maintaining their deployments. 

Photo: Palo Alto Networks

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