Guest vs. Family
Once the Box is installed, it scans your network for devices and places all devices into the default Guest category in the Bitdefender Box App. Guest devices are protected by the Box only when they are on the Box protected network.
Using the Bitdefender App, you can manually move devices from the Guest to Family category. As you can see below, I have 4 devices in the Family category, and 2 devices in the Guest category.
If you change a device from Guest to Family, you can enable Manage this device, Local Protection, and/or Private Line protection on a Windows, Mac, or Android device. On an iOS device, you can enable Manage this device and/or Private Line Protection. Enabling any of these options on a device requires installing the Bitdefender Agent. In my anti-malware tests above, I had the Bitdefender Agent installed on one of my Windows PCs.
The Bitdefender Box inspects outgoing traffic from each device on your Box network. The Bitdefender Agent complements the protection provided by the Bitdefender Box with various features, depending on your device. The Bitdefender Agent installs on Android 4.0 and higher, iOS 7 and higher, Windows 7 and higher, Mac OS 10.7 and higher. The table shows Bitdefender Agent services by operating system, as listed in the Bitdefender Box User's Guide.
|Windows||Mac OS X||iOS||Android|
|Personal Hot Spot||X||X|
Bitdefender Agent Service support (X = supported)
The Private Line feature is offered across all operating systems. The User's Guide describes the Private Line as a Virtual Private Network (VPN) feature that provides "persistent protection for your devices even when they are outside the Box network". When you activate the Private Line feature, Bitdefender BOX will set up a secured VPN connection to protect your mobile devices outside your home network.
The remaining Bitdefender Agent features vary, based on operating system.
- Local Protection scans Windows files for malware and monitors applications for "malware-like" actions.
- System protection checks whether your operating system is up to date. TheBitdefender App provides notifications of applications that should be updated.
- Password/passcode protection checks to see if your passwords are considered "strong," meaning they contain a combination of upper and lower case characters, as well as numerical and special characters such as #, $, or @. The App will display an icon indicating whether detected passwords are considered weak or strong.
- Vulnerability protection detects outdated applications. This protection is provided by the Agent and not to be confused with the network Vulnerability Assessment provided by the Box described previously .
- Free Space protection monitors your free space capacity to ensure temporary files and the browser cache don't overload your system and slow it down. Free Space can be cleared from the Bitdefender App.
Local Protection on a Windows PC will run only if no active antivirus solution is detected. The User Guide instructs to remove any antivirus solution installed on your PC or the Local Protection feature will stay disabled.
I disabled Microsoft Windows Firewall and Defender on my Windows 10 PC, set it up as a Family device on the Box App, and enabled Manage this device, Local Protection and Private Line. The App tells you to browse to any web page like www.bitdefender.com in the device and an invitation to install the Agent will open in the browser. I was able to browse to yahoo.com without an invite. I then browsed to www.bitdefender.com, received the invite and clicked Join.
My PC downloaded the Agent executable, which I then installed. However, the Agent didn't seem to do anything, and I noticed my PC was no longer listed in either the Family or Guest device list in the Bitdefender App. At this point, I concluded there was either an installation problem or user error, so I called Bitdefender support. Bitdefender Box offers free 24x7 phone support, and I was impressed that I got a live body on a weekend evening to assist me. The tech walked me through resetting the Box, and eventually we got the Agent to install on my PC.
As you can see in the screenshot, my Windows PC is listed in the Bitdefender App as a Family device, and Bitdefender has done a vulnerability check, checked for updates, password security, and free space.
Bitdefender Windows Agent
- Local Protection on a Mac OS X PC protects against infected files and automatically attempts to block or remove them. If the Agent can't automatically block or remove the file, the App will notify you and you'll have the option tomanually delete the file. The User Guide does not instruct to remove anti-virus software from a Mac.
- System, Password, and Free Space protection for a Mac is the same as for Windows.
- I did not test the Bitdefender Agent on a Mac OS machine.
- Passcode protection on an iOS device (such as an iPhone) is the same as described for a Windows device.
- Personal Hot Spot protection will inform you (via the App) that the Personal Hot Spot feature is enabled on your device.
- Antitheft protection will allow you to either lock your device from the App so it is accessible only via a PIN you set in the App, or Wipe your iOS device from the App to return it to factory defaults.
- Data Roaming protection on an iOS device will allow you to manage data traffic on your device when away from your network.
To test the Bitdefender Agent on my iPhone, I enabled Family protection on the Bitdefender App for my iPhone, and then enabled both Manage this device and Private Line, as shown in the image below.
Bitdefender Agent iOS
The smaller print on the bottom says "Pending Activation. To activate these options on (device) please visit any web page and an invite will open in the browser." I then went to a web page using the Google browser and got the prompt shown below to install the agent.
Bitdefender Agent Invite
I clicked on Join, but nothing seemed to happen. I again consulted Bitdefender tech support, and they advised that you can install the Bitdefender Agent on iOS using only the Safari browser. I eventually got the Bitdefender Agent to attempt to install, but then ran into the problem that I was already running "Mobile Device Management" on my iPhone, as shown below.
Mobile Device Management
To securely run various applications with my day job, we use a Mobile Device Management profile, and it appears an iPhone only allows you to run one Mobile Device Management profile on your device. Subsequently, I was not able to test the Bitdefender Agent on my iPhone.Android
- Local Protection inspects files for malware as they are installed on your device. You'll receive a notification via the App if malware is detected.
- Passcode protection - same as previously described.
- Location protection shows your device location via Google Maps. It also provides the option to lock or wipe the device, as described above for an iOS device and allows you to enable an audible alarm on a lost device.
- Personal Hot Spot protection - same as on an iOS device.
- Data Usage protection allows you to set a data limit. A notification will be presented on the App when you are close the limit. If the limit is reached, your device will no longer be allowed to transfer data of the cellular network.
- I did not test the Bitdefender App on an Android device.
Bitdefender Box may have had the field to itself in 2015. But today it is competing with many other products. Mainstream consumer router makers are waking up to the heightened risk of life on the internet today and adding security features to their products. Luma was the first Wi-Fi System maker to include security features in its product when it launched last year. Many of this year's crop of Wi-Fi Systems also have security features, including TP-Link Deco's HomeCare, eero Gen 2's Plus and ASUS Lyra's AiProtection, which is also available on many of its RT series routers. And then there is Norton's Core router, which has recently started shipping.
More direct competition for Box comes from the Cujo Smart Firewall that I recently reviewed. Both Cujo and Box provide browsing protection, but I found that neither do much for DoS or Parental Control security. However, Cujo inspects both incoming and outgoing packets, allowing it to detect malware, while the Box only inspects outgoing packets and relies on software to detect malware.
Bitdefender Box is listed at $129.99 on the Bitdefender website and includes a 1 year subscription to Bitdefender software. Cujo is listed at $99 for the device and $8.99/month, or $158 for the device and first year of service, or $249 for the device including a lifetime subscription. eero wants 10 bucks a month ($99/year) for Plus, while TP-Link and ASUS are not charging for their security features.
I end my tests of the Bitdefender Box underwhelmed. It provides some network protection in the form of browsing protection and vulnerability scanning. However, the Bitdefender Box doesn't provide Parental Controls and doesn't inspect incoming traffic. Further, it requires installing software on your devices,which I found challenging, for more complete protection. Bottom line: I wouldn't choose Bitdefender Box as a security solution on my network. Maybe they'll do better with Box 2.