You Don't Own What You Buy, Part 15,332: Cisco Forces Questionable New Firmware On Routers

from the not-cool dept

One of the things that we keep learning in a connected, digital age, is that what you think you "bought" you often don't really own. Companies who sell you products seem to feel a certain freedom to unilaterally change the terms of your purchase, after the fact. I'm reminded of Sony removing key features on the PS3, though there are plenty of other examples. A new one is the story of Cisco, pushing out a firmware update to routers without customer approval and (even worse) having that firmware update block people from logging in directly to their own routers. Apparently, if you don't like it... er... too bad.
Cisco has started automatically pushing the company's new "Cloud Connect" firmware update to consumer routers -- without customer approval. Annoyed users note that the update won't let consumers directly log into their routers anymore -- they have to register for a new Cloud Connect account. The only way to revert to directly accessing the device you paid for? You have to unplug it from the Internet.
Oh, and registering for such an account means you have to agree to give up your data so that Cisco can sell it. As per the terms:
...we may keep track of certain information related to your use of the Service, including but not limited to the status and health of your network and networked products; which apps relating to the Service you are using; which features you are using within the Service infrastructure; network traffic (e.g., megabytes per hour); Internet history; how frequently you encounter errors on the Service system and other related information ("Other Information"). We use this Other Information to help us quickly and efficiently respond to inquiries and requests, and to enhance or administer our overall Service for our customers.

We may also use this Other Information for traffic analysis (for example, determining when the most customers are using the Service) and to determine which features within the Service are most or least effective or useful to you. In addition, we may periodically transmit system information to our servers in order to optimize your overall experience with the Service. We may share aggregated and anonymous user experience information with service providers, contractors or other third parties...
Seems like a good way to drive people into buying routers from other companies. I can see how a "cloud service" could have value, but it should be presented to users as a choice, where the actual benefit to them (if there is one) is clearly presented. Instead, this rollout seems designed solely to benefit Cisco and its partners, rather than the people who bought (or so they thought) their routers.

Filed Under: firmware, hacking, routers
Companies: cisco

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  1. icon
    TasMot (profile), 2 Jul 2012 @ 10:50am

    I bet they won't pay for my bandwidth overages either.

    I need a new router. My old Linksys is starting to be a little flaky. So, now, I will be going with re-purposing an old computer to pfSense. I had already started looking into how to set up a USB boot version of pfSense (and it can be done). So now, it will move up in priority. It used to be that Linksys had the most feature full routers and switches for the best price. They seriously started going downhill when the C-word company bought them. That C-word company seems to have taken the the worst of the corporate force-it-down-your-throat mentality and applied to consumers who have a choice to go elsewhere. From now on, my little piece of the world will receive recommendations to buy anything but C**** routers and switches so that they don't have their private info sold to the world. Having my network data monitored, collected and aggregated just doesn't do anything for me. If nothing else, it will use up my bandwidth to send it to them. In another one of those f***ing corporate money grabs, Comcast now has bandwidth caps. If my usage goes over I get charged more (and I'm betting that C**** won't repay me for the usage overages that they caused). I already block access to as many ad sites as I can, but I need to get to the router site for debugging issues. I guess I'm glad I ordered a TRENDNet gigabit switch now (24 port $109.00) for my house (and yes, I really do need a 24 port switch at home). I used to only buy Linksys. Now, they will be the only entry on my "don't buy from them" list.

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