(Mis)Uses of Technology

by Mike Masnick

Filed Under:
firmware, hacking, routers


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.

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  1. icon
    LVDave (profile), 2 Jul 2012 @ 11:33am

    So long Cisco, you just couldn't resist, could ya?

    Ever since the early 90s, when I became involved with network support in my day-jobs, I'd always bought/recommended/wrote PRs for Cisco equipment. Now I'm semi-retired, doing part-time consulting for small businesses/home users. Until this, I had always recommended Cisco/Linksys for home users, and Cisco's small business Integrated Networking routers/firewall products for small business. This stops NOW.. Yes, I realize I'm only one.. But if you stop and think about how many "me's" there are in tech-dom, who do EXACTLY the same things I do, and are just as fed up with this kind of b.s. activity by corporations, you'll see that "recommender backlash" has a VERY good chance of putting a severe dent into Ciscos bottom line. Once a company has lost its credibility, its close to impossible to get it back, ESPECIALLY with tech companies who, even though they probably won't admit it, rely on recommendations by knowledgable techies who just happen to have LONG memories... Like maybe SONY?? Real stupid, Cisco, for you to emulate Sony...

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