Review: Fingbox – Don’t do a fing online without it

Fing’s new Fingbox may be the answer to protecting your home network and smart home. It detects intruders, blocks unwanted or malicious devices, and analyses the quality of it’s wired, Wi-Fi, and Internet connection. It is router agnostic – all you need is a spare ethernet router port to plug it in.

I first discovered Fing as a free Android app on Google Play https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.overlook.android.fing&hl=en (it also works with iOS and as a web URL) when I needed a LAN scanner to see what was connected to my router. It detected all my devices and the fact that someone was persistently trying to illegally access the router – probably a web bot looking for vulnerabilities. I was sold!

Fingbox monitors an unlimited number of devices on your single home network to keep the bad guys out. Additional Fingboxs are needed if you use subnet or VLAN – most don’t.

Think of Fingbox as a hardware extension of the app that communicates with an Android or iOS device and sends email alerts when something strange occurs.

It allows, or blocks devices – it is not a hardware firewall https://www.fing.io/network-security-tools-firewalls-vs-device-blocking/ that does packet scanning and many routers do that anyway.

You tell it to block unknown devices so make sure you use recognisable system names like FredHPx360 instead of system allocated names like desktop-0134598. You can also rename devices at the Fingbox level – great for generic IoT devices.

It scans devices, open ports, and even nearby wi-fi enabled devices that are not connected to the network and ensures these are approved before allowing access – talk about identifying intruder alerts.

The port scan allows you to close unsecured ports via the router user interface. But wait there is more.

  • Network Events: Logging all the events that happened on a network.
  • Wi-Fi Speed: Finds the best channels to set the router to avoid congestion with other routers.
  • Find the best places and sweet spots to get a Wi-Fi connection on your network.
  • Bandwidth Analysis: Discover which devices are hogging all the broadband.
  • Internet Speed: speed of Wi-Fi from the router to the device. Internet upload, download, latency coming into the router.
  • It also has parental controls to track who is online, limit internet activity, see device activity and history

I found the network hog feature useful as it gave an analysis of who is using what bandwidth.

Unboxing

The pretty little Fingbox is really a small white, circular device with a removable cyan (blue) outer cup/sheath that I suspect few will use.

You also get an ethernet cable and micro-USB cable and power supply. There is a full-sized USB-A port too for future expansion.

It runs Linux Ubuntu Core on an ARMv7 processor with 1GB RAM and is easily updated by a small <3MB file (see release notes here https://www.fing.io/fingbox-release-notes/. ) Scheduled updates include:

  • Internet Security: Refresh button to run the Internet Security Scan on demand, ability to close UPnP ports and graphical and feature design improvements
  • Scheduled Parental Control: Ability to schedule Pausing of User’s Devices
  • Redesign of the Digital Fence: (including history, timeline of people, filtering etc.)
  • Periodic Speed Tests – ideal for NBN monitoring
  • Device List Usability Enhancements: Filter / Search / Sort Order / Group By
  • LED Quiet Mode: bright light only when alerting or performing commands

A good example of updating was the recent KRACK Wi-Fi attack. Fingbox already has a WIDS (Wireless Intrusion Detection System) to detect “Evil Twin” and “Rogue” attacks on your Access Points so it was able to detect KRACK attacks and similar MITM attacks and warn users.

Who will buy it?

This is a new product recently crowd-funded via Indiegogo campaign where it received US$1,656,278 – 1744% over target – and started shipping on 30 August.

But it has a long pedigree – Fing was founded in January 2009 and the app has become standard fare for home network security and management. Development on Fingbox started in May 2016 and it has been proven by over 20,000 early adopters.

It costs US$129 and you can buy it online at https://www.fing.io/buy-fingbox/

Anyone with a home network should have one but I suspect that it appeals most to those with an interest in security and the ability to use that to tighten up the network.

It is cheap enough for what it does especially as there are no on-going costs.

For Joe Average, it makes securing your home network very easy – plug in to literally keep the bad guys out of your network – all you need to initially approve/block the devices on your network. After that Fing will alert you to unauthorised intrusions. Plus, it can speed up the network and monitor NBN performance.

For the techy types, it adds a level of control that you really need- the manual is here. https://39qiv73eht2y1az3q51pykkf-wpengine.netdna-ssl.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/Fingbox-User-Guide.pdf

And if you do holiday rentals of your home you can secure your network while it is rented and then remotely block the users once the rental is finished.

Pros

  • Plug and play but you can do so much more
  • Router agnostic
  • Linux OS allows for feature upgrades
  • Detects anything on the home network – IoT devices included and allows blocking
  • Has proven my NBN FTTN connection is 99.9% reliable and delivers rated speeds

Cons

  • None really except those with a knowledge of IP networks will benefit most

Summary

Fingbox gives you a high level of information about your network as well as make it easy for you to troubleshoot slowdowns, connectivity problems and other network related troubles. It also helps protect yours from outside attacks – all for a relatively affordable price.

Price

Fing is available online https://www.fing.io/ for US$129 plus freight. Order the Australian power plug version. There are no ongoing subscription costs.

Rating

Overall: 4.2 out of 5

Features: 4 out of 5 – because its Linux based there is great scope to add more features

Value for money: 4 out 5 – there is little to compare it with

Performance: 5 out of 5 – does not slow web access and identified bandwidth hogs

Ease of Use: 3 out of 5 – those with a little IP knowledge will find it very easy and powerful. Others won’t get the full benefit.

Design: 5 out of 5 – it is cute

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