BARCELONA—McAfee wants to make smart home security as easy as any other voice command: “Alexa, run a security scan of all my connected devices.”
At Mobile World Congress, the antivirus and security software company announced the McAfee Secure Home Platform Skill for Amazon Alexa. Soon, by enabling the McAfee skill, Alexa users will be able to manage their connected home’s network security and enable parental controls using voice commands.
The catch is that the skill only works if your router is secured with the McAfee Secure Home Platform, which the company announced at CES in January. The Internet of Things (IoT) router solution extends McAfee’s desktop security to every device on your home network, and lets you create security profiles for different family members. The McAfee Alexa skill gives customers the ability to manage this via voice, rather than using an Android or iOS app.
The McAfee skill will launch with more than 10 commands for Alexa, according to Gary Davis, Chief Consumer Security Evangelist at McAfee. Davis told PCMag that McAfee chose to start with Alexa due to the platform’s maturity and popularity, but the company sees this as a testbed for enabling voice-activated security across the smart home landscape.
“You’ve seeing a massive adoption of these home automation devices with Alexa as the leader of the pack,” said Davis. “We’re looking at this holistically. We started with Alexa, but devices by Google and Apple are gaining critical mass as well. We want to see how the Alexa launch goes and see how many skills we can create, and then quickly re-purpose them for other platforms.”
Davis said McAfee has worked directly with Amazon to build a set of skills for greatly simplifying smart home device security. At launch, the McAfee Secure Home Platform Skill will be able to perform device and vulnerability scans, send infected device notifications, set up individual security controls such as particular times children are allowed to be online, and more. Some of the available commands at launch include:
- “Alexa, ask McAfee how many devices are online right now”
- “Alexa, ask McAfee to scan my network”
- “Alexa, ask McAfee what is the status of my network”
- “Alexa, ask McAfee to block/unblock a specific device”
- “Alexa, ask McAfee to pause the internet for a specific user”
“You can ask Alexa to tell you what devices you have in your home, and she’ll go through and tell you what’s new,” said Davis, “You can say ‘Hey Alexa, run a vulnerability scan’ and it might say that this lightbulb still has a default username and password, you should probably change it.”
McAfee said its Alexa skill has gone through Amazon’s certification process, but the availability will vary depending on hardware partners since the skill requires McAfee Secure Home Platform software on your router. The company does expect one partner router, the D-Link AC2600, to be available by the second half of 2018.