McAfee's smart home security solution, the aptly named Secure Home, will soon be getting Google Assistant integration. The new functionality will help to secure users' home networks and connected items like Internet of Things gear, game consoles, and even the very smart speakers that most users will be giving these commands to. Many devices that typically end up as part of a smart home, such as routers, are compatible with McAfee Secure Home, but it's up to the device manufacturer to actually add the platform into their devices' firmware. Users with compatible devices will start seeing integration roll out within the next few months.
Background: The first thing to note is that this integration will not introduce any entirely new functionality for McAfee Secure Home; instead, it will make it easier to use existing functions like checking your network. McAfee Secure Home is a full-service suite of network and smart home security tools as it is, but with Google Assistant integration, any Google Assistant device on the same network as your Secure Home device will be able to help you manage it. The full list of commands for the feature set has yet to be released, but two sample commands include asking how many devices are connected to your home network, and scanning that network for any devices with known vulnerabilities that have yet to be patched in their current firmware version. Such a scan would pick up, for example, a smart TV needing an update, a laptop running an old version of Windows, or a game console with a known vulnerability on its current firmware version. The platform is also capable of advanced functions like botnet detection for IoT devices, scanning all internet traffic in and out of the house for malicious packets, and stopping certain devices from connecting while you're away from home. All of this functionality is already available on your smartphone, through a management app created by McAfee, but Assistant integration will make things easier than ever, and will even allow you to leave your smartphone on the charger and manage your Secure Home platform from a Google Home in the living room, for example.
Impact: Voice assistants and the AI that powers them already have a huge impact on everyday life for savvy users, but this integration won't likely be one of those huge impacts. You'll be able to manage and secure your network and the things on it from anywhere in your home with simple voice commands, but many people simply don't access security tools of that nature often enough to turn a nice touch like this into a meaningful innovation that will change their everyday life. For IT admins or smart home junkies, of course, that may not apply, and this news may well be a very big deal. In any case, one thing that this news will do is draw attention to McAfee Secure Home. It's currently available only on select Arris and D-Link routers and gateways, but that partner list, as well as the platform's active user count, will likely grow once Assistant integration is off the ground.