Most routers are pretty boring. They direct traffic in and out of your network (hopefully doing so with at least a modicum of security). But while they sit by idly waiting for packets to route, they do nothing. And as for updating...that's generally on the user to handle.
There's a crowd funded piece of technology that aims to change all of that. The Turris Omnia is a router of a completely different nature. Not only does it automatically update its firmware (as soon as a vulnerability is discovered and patched), it can serve as a DNLA (Digital Living Network Alliance), a backup server (you have to plug in an external drive for this), you can insert a SIM card to ensure connection failover, connect to SFP, and much more. The Omnia is based on OpenWRT and is, as you might expect, open source).
The project has already reached its goals (by 367% as of this writing) and is ready to start shipping devices in April, 2016.
Of course, this particular product won't come cheap. As of now, to get in on the fun you'll have to drop $189.00 USD. Is it worth it? At first blush, you might be thinking "no". Especially for a consumer application, a router with such a price tag seems a bit much.
Or is it?
Consider this: The need for security is at an all time high. Businesses get that. Consumers, on the other hand, do not. The average consumer still assumes "password" is too much of a password to have to remember or type. Those same users also assume that low-end router their ISP handed them two years ago is up to the task of keeping their network and data safe.
Chances are, it's not.
I'm not necessarily saying everyone should immediately drop the coin for the Turris Omnia. But the idea that some generic router is up capable of handling modern-day network security is laughable. I get it, though. The router is the last piece of equipment anyone thinks about...until their network goes down. Most users have no idea how insecure an outdated router can be. Those same users have no idea how to log onto their router and check for updates. Some routers, such as the Motorola devices used by AT&T UVERSE, don't even offer the ability for users to update the software (they automatically update whenever the AT&T management platform rolls out an upgrade during a maintenance window, based on geolocation.
You should see the danger in that. When a vulnerability is found, that update might not hit your router for a while...leaving you unprotected. That, my friends, is why a router like the Turris Omnia is such an important upgrade to the home network. And because the Omnia is open source, vulnerabilities will be found and patched much more quickly than if it were proprietary.
And if you're still a bit concerned about the cost of this router, consider the specs:
- CPU: 1.6 GHz dual-core ARM
- RAM: 1 GB DDR3
- Storage: 4 GB flash
- LAN 5x Gbit port
- WAN 1x Gbit port
- USB 3.0
You'd be hard pressed to find another consumer-grade router with similar specs. So you can believe this baby will perform. And with the addition of the upgrade feature, the Omnia will be the router to have for anyone concerned about the security of their home network.
Which should be everyone.
Is it perfect? No one knows yet. It is, however, a promising piece of technology that should go a long way to show the home networking space is in much need of improvement.
Would you be willing to pay the high price for such a unique router?
Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website getjackd.net.