- Low maintenance when activated—install it and forget about it
- Parental controls to restrict and schedule online access for your kids
- Automatic detection of internet-connected devices in your home
- Ability to monitor up to 50 devices at once
- Excellent customer support
- Immediate notification when it detects security threats
- Slightly invasive requirements for connecting to new devices
- Uninspiring data protection policy
- Potential impact on network speeds
- Dimensions: 4.87 in. x 4.87 in. x 5.75 in.
- Weight: 13.3oz
- Operating temperature: 32°F – 104°F
- Processor: Dual Core 1GHz
- App requirements: iOS/Android phones
- Warranty: 1 year
The CUJO Smart Firewall is an undeniably adorable piece of hardware designed to improve your in-home online security. As I’ve equipped my home with more internet-connected technologies like a smart thermostat, smart TV, and a few modern gaming consoles, I’ve also been wondering how I can protect these devices that traditional firewalls cannot.
That’s where CUJO comes in. Once set up in your home, it automatically detects and monitors all of your connected devices at once, safeguarding your entire ecosystem of products from online threats.
CUJO operates in real time, notifying you via its phone app every time it blocks a suspicious activity. And the cherry on top? It comes with an intuitive parental control feature that gives you complete control over your child’s online browsing. The bedtime and custom schedule features even allow you to block their internet access altogether.
I spent some time with the CUJO Smart Firewall to see if it lived up to its intended functions. As expected with relatively new technology, I inevitably ran into a few quirks while testing the product at home but otherwise found it to be viable as an added layer of security to my in-home network. Let’s take a deeper look.
CUJO puts the “smart” in firewall technology
Traditional firewalls consist of both software and hardware devices that help screen out online viruses, hack attempts, and worms that try to infiltrate your computer. But these traditional firewalls often don’t protect devices with the Internet of Things (IoT) in modern homes.
IoT technology refers to the web of in-home devices that connect to your wireless internet—like your home automation system, smart locks, or smart speaker. These devices are particularly vulnerable, and when they’re hacked you likely have no way to know.
CUJO addresses the firewall needs of modern device owners by analyzing all your IoT devices in real time to protect devices from malicious privacy attacks. It essentially pulls metadata from these devices and processes and monitors that information in the cloud. When CUJO detects a threat, it will preemptively block the source and send an alert to your phone.
What we like about CUJO
Parental controls set CUJO apart
Monitoring screen time for all your kids can get a little overwhelming, but CUJO’s impressive parental control platform makes it simple. It also feels intuitive to have your parental control features on the same platform as your in-home firewall. In the app, you can set up personal profiles for anyone in the house and assign devices accordingly. From there, you can schedule internet access and restrict questionable content for each family member individually.
I found the scheduling feature both useful and easy to operate. I was able to set custom schedules for each member of the house that either restricted certain websites or paused internet access altogether. In busier households, this could save parents a lot of energy trying to manage things like homework or bedtime for the kids.
CUJO offers simplified pricing
CUJO used to operate on a somewhat complicated subscription model, but it has since moved to a simple, flat fee of $249. The new subscription-free model gets you complete access to the CUJO and its features. If you order directly from the company, it offers a 30-day money-back guarantee.
What CUJO could improve
Is your browsing data safe with CUJO?
While CUJO was doing its thing, I couldn’t help but wonder what kind of data it was collecting and where that information was going. Since data privacy is a big concern today, I was surprised the company’s collection policy was so hard to find and that the information I did find was sparse.
CUJO briefly explains in its FAQ that it collects browsing data in the form of destination IP addresses but doesn’t share that information with third parties. Personally, I wanted a more concrete and transparent policy, but I did feel better knowing it wasn’t sharing my browsing data with other entities.
More information on the source of attacks
Although the app notified me when it blocked an attack, I felt it could have shared a bit more information than just the time and device that encountered the attack. If I had known the specific website, link, or download that triggered CUJO to take action, I could have more proactively worked to avoid these attacks in the future.
My experience with CUJO
While I had no trouble setting up CUJO in my home, there’s an option in the app to call or video chat with the company’s support team should you run into any problems. The CUJO hardware is pretty simple, coming with nothing more than a power cord and an Ethernet cable to connect directly to your router.
Once set up, CUJO immediately starts detecting internet-connected devices in your home. Within minutes, it had detected my smart TV, cellphones, computers, printer, and Chromecast.
Depending on your living situation, this process can be a little invasive. CUJO was picking up people’s devices before they walked through the front door. And while I was at work, I could see whenever someone opened a new device back at the house.
I didn’t notice any impact on our network speeds while using CUJO, but I have a relatively powerful Xfinity package and rarely encounter speed issues. Those with slower internet speeds might see a measurable dip when CUJO begins monitoring their devices.
One worry I had while testing CUJO was how often it might overreact and block nonthreatening content. I can say after a few days monitoring 12 devices in my home, CUJO had no impact on our day-to-day browsing, and the few threats it encountered seemed legitimate.
With each threat I received a notification informing me what kind of attack CUJO blocked (trojan, brute force login attempt, content spoofing site, etc.) and which device encountered the threat.
The majority of CUJO reviews are positive. Many of the positive reviews cite an easy setup, quality performance, and an excellent support team. The negative reviews mostly come from users who experience hardware issues while setting up CUJO, with a few who noticed a drop in network speeds after setting up the device.
Positive user reviews
“I just got the Cujo installed last night, it seems to be working exactly as expected, and it has already blocked a couple of apparently legitimate threats. I am giving this an early 5-star based entirely on eager and helpful technical support. I have a two satellite Orbi mesh router system, and it turns out that the setup for a system like this is a tiny bit more complicated than plug-and-play. I registered, took a shot at the installation, borked it, and reset everything back to normal to take a second attempt. The app has a video tech support option, and I decided to take a stab at that more out of curiosity than anything. I hit the button, it rang a few times, and the next thing I know my kid needed some attention so I abandoned the call. Someone called me back a few minutes later, using the number I left during registration. He left a message that he was sorry he missed my call, and he encourage me to call support. I did call support again, and it was answered quickly without some phone tree designed to keep me from talking to a human. The technician immediately new what needed to be done, explained it to me, and made sure everything was working perfectly before I got off the phone. I am no expert in networking protocols. However, I know barely enough to not be hopeless, and the technician explained enough to me that I ought to be able to successfully set this up myself in the future.” —TacoTaco, Amazon, 12/22/2017
“HAVE really enjoyed adding this unit to my home network. Adds an extra layer of security and is automatically updated. I did have to call Support to get my configuration to go but it’s been working silently and automatically since then. Cujo support is super helpful and fast. They even called me to check on me. Phone app tells you exact what threats were encountered and blocked. Also thought it might slow down network throughput but feels same as before and network speed test us same. (I’m using the DHCP option) Unit is super easy to setup, almost just plug and play.” —Skipatroller, Amazon, 3/16/2018
Negative user reviews
“I have a wired network. There is no setup unless you have an android device on the network. Was told to download an emulator. It doesn’t work either. Was also told the developers are working on PC support. I guess it is only for home wireless networks that have your phone on wifi. Wish that it was mentioned can’t be setup unless your phone is on the network.” —Richard R., Amazon, 4/21/2017
“I love the idea of Cujo and believe that it works pretty well. My issue is that it cannot deal with Gigabit throughput – it kills about half of my speed pushing out around 460Mbps (I have around 900Mbps going into the Cujo from the router). Cujo tech support confirmed this is an issue but it is not mentioned anywhere on the Cujo website at all – even if you do a specific search for it. I certainly would not have bought it had I known this to be true so now its back in its box and I’m looking for an alternative.” JD, Amazon, 11/29/2017
Do we recommend the CUJO Smart Firewall?
While CUJO isn’t ready to serve as a standalone security system for all your connected devices, it is certainly a welcome addition if you’re looking to strengthen IoT security in your home. Despite being a relatively new technology, CUJO proves it can help protect your home without interfering much with your daily browsing. And if you have kids, CUJO’s parental control functionality would be an extremely useful addition to your home.
If you already own a CUJO, we’d love to hear your thoughts in a comment below.