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Dojo smart home security system seems expensive for peace of mind

The Dojo sounds cool, but it costs more than a router that has similar built-in protection, plus it has an ongoing service fee.

Dong Ngo
Dong Ngo SF Labs Manager, Editor / Reviews
CNET editor Dong Ngo has been involved with technology since 2000, starting with testing gadgets and writing code for CNET Labs' benchmarks. He now manages CNET San Francisco Labs, reviews 3D printers, networking/storage devices, and also writes about other topics from online security to new gadgets and how technology impacts the life of people around the world.
3 min read

The Dojo looks like a huge pebble.


First announced back in November 2015, the Dojo is finally shipping today. From what its maker -- BullGuard -- has to say, it seems a cool way to easily add a layer of security to your home network.

BullGuard claims that the Dojo will protect all internet-of-things (IoT) smart devices in your home, such as smart alarms, thermostats, baby monitors, smart appliances , lighting, locks and so on. Considering how smart home devices seem easily hacked, the Dojo sounds like a great idea. Let's take a closer look.

How it works

The Dojo comes in two pieces: one is a base that connects to your home Wi-Fi network; the other is the Dojo itself, which looks like a large pebble. BullGuard says you can leave the Dojo on the base or place it around the house wherever you want.

Once connected to a network, the Dojo can automatically detect IoT devices and monitor their traffic, something BullGuard calls metadata, to detect and stop suspicious activities. The device has rings of lights that indicate the security status of the network. Green rings mean everything is OK; yellow rings mean that a risk has been detected and automatically taken care of. Red rings, however, indicate that an action must be taken in the Dojo smartphone app.


The Dojo app is available for both Android and iOS and is used for both the setup process and the ongoing management of the device. You can use it at home and when you're out and about. This means, however, that the Dojo is connected to BullGuard at all times, which can be a privacy risk. BullGuard says this cloud-based connection affords the Dojo artificial intelligence and machine learning capabilities, allowing it to tailor its security policy for each device on the home Wi-Fi network. All this makes it quite cool, though the Cujo that came out earlier this year has similar features.

It's expensive

The Dojo is not all cool, though. For one, it only supports Wi-Fi, meaning it won't work with Z-Wave or ZigBee devices out of the box, though it can indirectly protect them via their centralized hub, such as the Samsung SmartThings.

What's hardest to stomach, however, is the cost. At launch, the Dojo comes with a $199 price tag (for now it's only available in the US, but that roughly converts to £155 or AU$265), which includes a 12-month service fee. After that, you have to keep paying to use it at $99 a year or $10 a month.

For that much, you're better off getting a high-end router or Wi-Fi system with built-in security features, like one from Asus (such as the RT-AC68u -- which currently costs less than the Dojo's initial price -- or a later model), the Synology WRT2600AC or the TP-Link Deco M5, just to name a few. These routers offer free lifetime security protection for the entire network, not just IoT devices. And if you like the ability to monitor your home devices using a mobile app, it might be a good idea to wait for the recently announced Asus Blue Cave or the Norton Core.

In all, if you have a lot of IoT devices and have no idea how to secure them, getting the Dojo will give you some extra protection -- assuming the device is as effective as BullGuard claims -- and peace of mind. On the other hand, if you already know how to change the default password of your devices to something strong, which you should do anyway, the Dojo might be an expensive and unnecessary device to have in your home.

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