(Mis)Uses of Technology

by Mike Masnick


Filed Under:
firmware, hacking, routers

Companies:
cisco



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. identicon
    Anonymous Coward With A Unique Writing Style, 3 Jul 2012 @ 7:45am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    I've had AT&T DSL for about a decade now. With a more modern 2Wire router being given to us when we cancelled then signed up for DSL services again about 6 years ago. The first router was, in my opinion, great. Minimal hassle to setup and secure. AT&T wanted to charge me $200 to have a tech come to my home and do it, I laughed and told them no thanks. Did it myself in under a minute. When it broke (about a year ago), the rep on the line was nice enough to send out a replacement for free (despite stating that AT&T's current policy, about a year ago was that a customer had to pay to replace the router and it would've been like $100-150). Since then no problems.

    Although recently, we had a random out of nowhere thunderstorm (WITH HUGE HAIL, which is rare for South Texas) and I lost service for a day. When it came back, somewhat, I couldn't connect and when I called they tried to blame me (an IT guy) for not setting it up right or doing something I shouldn't be doing and a ton of other excuses/stuff they said was my fault. I told them that since my neighborhood first got DSL service they had always been at fault for our problems. Laying the lines and then just tossing almost no dirt on them, which led to them being cut by someone's lawnmower. Burying the line in the ditch that until two years ago had no out (so when it flooded, it would fill and take out the neighborhood's service until it was drained by the city and had time to dry) and so on. I then hung up on them and reconnected my router and it worked, with a catch. Now I had to set it up from scratch (not the router but my service) and AT&T installed a ton of crapware on my laptop just to get my connection going again (all settings preserved from before). I just uninstalled it all and have been good to go since.

    Out of all the routers I've setup in my life, 2Wire has always been the easiest to setup/use. With Linksys acting up a lot, but only if used in conunction with older (pre-2Wire) AT&T DSL routers. Cisco I usually recommend as it's mostly hookup and you're set (if you run the disc, which many people forget to do). Recently I've tried out the Amped products (for work) and have been more than pleased with those, the range is insane. But they are kind of pricey (as in $120+ for pretty much all their products).

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