On our most recent IoT Podcast episode, Sam called in with a question about managing the networked devices in his smart home. Specifically, he wants to get a list of the IP and MAC addresses in his smart home from his Nest mesh Wi-Fi router. Ideally, he wants to capture that information in one step for a single document for auditing and managing the device connections.
This can be done but it’s not an automatic process as Sam alluded to in his message. He knows that in the Nest Wi-Fi app, he can see the IP and MAC addresses of the connected devices on his network one by one. I can do the same in my Eero app and I’m sure most mesh networking apps have the same information.
But few, if any, actually provide you a way to export the device information. That’s OK though: I don’t think that’s the best approach anyway.
While MAC addresses never change, IP addresses can. Keeping a document of the addresses and devices is probably more of a hassle than its worth.
Additionally, it would only tell you what devices are connected to your home network at a given point in time. And it tells you next to nothing about the data being sent from those devices other than how much of it is going into the cloud.
So I actually recommend looking at the Firewalla line of devices, two of which I’ve previously reviewed: The Blue and the Gold models. Either the $179 Firewalla Blue or the $418 Firewalla Gold is what I’d recommend, depending on the network’s speed.
The Firewalla Blue is best suited for home connections up to 500 Mbps, while the more expensive Gold model handles 1 Gbps network speeds. It also has many more features, such as being a standalone router, which is why it’s so much more expensive.
Both monitor the devices on your network and actually tell you where your data is going by server and/or country. This is far more useful information in my opinion as you can see which devices are more “chatty” than others by sending lots of data beyond what you’d expect. Both devices offer a no monthly fee VPN server so you can browse the web more securely when away from home.
For most people, these devices are overkill. Many are happy just to see a notification from their router’s mobile app that tells them a new device joined the network. For Sam and others that want a deeper dive into connected devices on their home network, I’d say look at Firewalla.
To hear Sam’s question in full, as well as our discussion on the topic, tune in below to the IoT Podcast below.