Parent IoT Security Devices Update 2: Device 3

Introduction

We have been testing three devices during the course of the semester. The third and final device we tested was the Netgear Nighthawk R700P. Don’t miss our first two blog posts on the Norton Core and the Dojo. You can read about the first one here, or catch up with the second one here.  

The Netgear Nighthawk R700P is one of many routers aimed at media-centric households. It is feature rich and has strong parental controls. It also has great wireless reception and options galore. With strong parental controls from the integrated Circle, it was capable of blocking almost anything. This week we focused on the setup process and parental controls.

Night Hawk Ad

Setup

Setting up the router was easy after plugging it in and powering it up. The Netgear UP app prompts you to connect to the router using the information on the sticker. The app guides you through the setup process. It has you set passwords and name the network. Without the app, the process is completed on www.routerlogin.com.

Parental Controls Testing

The Circle is a simple parental control system with age-based controls and toggles for specific apps. It is a strong system that is easy to use and set up. Bolstering the system’s strength is the ability to set up time limits, bedtimes, and pauses. This allows a user to regulate when and how long someone is online. One of the most interesting (and likely overlooked) features is the ability to see what someone looked at online, and what sites were blocked. But, it’s not perfect. It requires a $4.99 per month subscription to enable proper functionality. It also has a noticeable performance hit, which is an issue for a device built for speed.

We tested the parental controls both at the kid level as well as at the adult tier. It was capable of blocking almost everything we wanted blocked. The only issue was Tumblr occasionally loading up despite being blocked. When we blocked YouTube, we also couldn’t run YouTube Kids. The device also blocked the NASA website and app when in kids mode because they are government sites. To make this device better, Circle should separate YouTube and YouTube Kids, as well as use custom filters over the default filters. There is one issue with the approach of running parental controls at the router. The protection doesn’t travel with them. Circle offers an app for this particular case. The app allows blocking on the device, but it wasn’t within the scope of our research.

Conclusion

The Netgear Nighthawk R700P would fit well into a household with kids. It has strong and easy to manage parental controls, great performance, and lots of expand-ability. The parental controls performed admirably, and its speeds were good until Circle was running, and its speed dropped. Even without Circle, it was slightly slower than the input internet speed.

Next, we plan to test its range and speed, as well as look at some of its other features. We want to know the kind of connection speed it can reach, its range, and if its signal can make it through walls.

Don’t forget the blog posts on our first two devices! Read about the Norton Core here, or learn about the Dojo here

 

Post any feedback, questions, or general comments in the comment section below! Interested in our research? Follow the Leahy Center for Digital Investigation (LCDI) on Twitter @ChampForensics, Instagram @ChampForensics and Facebook @ChamplainLCDI.