Cisco locks users out of their routers, requires invasive cloud service

Generally, when you buy a new device you plan on using it however you want, hopefully with the occasional update to keep everything running smoothly. Every once in a while, though, an update comes along that makes you scream in terror, like the one Cisco just rolled out across their router line, forcing users to register with Cisco's cloud service or end up with a bricked device.

Why in the world would you need to tie your router into some sort of cloud service? So that Cisco can monitor everything you do and sell your information, of course! Alright, alright: on the bright side, you do get anytime, anywhere” access to your router, and access to 'new apps' to enrich your 'connected lifestyle.' We never asked for apps on our router in the first place, but that's beside the point.

Initially, Cisco updated their privacy policy to give them the right to keep track of things like how much traffic goes through your router and which websites you're looking at:

When you use the Service, 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”).

Since then, they decided to yank that little addition (although they still have the right to change it back without notice), and thanks to user outcry, they've also provided some instructions to revert back to the old firmware and avoid these problems. Unfortunately, the vast majority of users will never even know about the update, or even what firmware is, let alone how to revert to an older version of it.

Aside from the obvious privacy issues, the real problem here is that they're trying to take your porno and warez away from you. The terms of service of Cisco's Cloud Connect service contains some really interesting clauses:

You agree not to use or permit the use of the Service: (i) to invade another's privacy; (ii) for obscene, pornographic, or offensive purposes; (iii) to infringe another's rights, including but not limited to any intellectual property rights; (iv) to upload, email or otherwise transmit or make available any unsolicited or unauthorized advertising, promotional materials, spam, junk mail or any other form of solicitation; (v) to transmit or otherwise make available any code or virus, or perform any activity, that could harm or interfere with any device, software, network or service (including this Service); or (vi) to violate, or encourage any conduct that would violate any applicable law or regulation or give rise to civil or criminal liability.  

As a result of that, Cisco reserves the right, 'without limitation,' to transform your router into a useless brick if they decide you're uploading a little too much porn on their cloud service, or if they catch you uploading that CD you just ripped. That could raise another red flag for people who still value their privacy, since enforcing those rules would probably mean keeping tabs on what each file that passes through the service is. With any luck, though, it's just an attempt to keep Cisco Cloud Connect from becoming the next Megaupload.

Via: Neowin Forums | Boing Boing
Source: Extreme Tech

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63 Comments

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This article is rubbish. It's misleading and meant to enrage users based on false assumptions. Don't be a band-wagoning minion. Cisco is protecting their own network - they don't care what you do on the internet. Give me a break.

Sumbotty said,
This article is rubbish. It's misleading and meant to enrage users based on false assumptions. Don't be a band-wagoning minion. Cisco is protecting their own network - they don't care what you do on the internet. Give me a break.

Cisco is protecting themselves by storing your internet history? Right...

surely this would only be on their consumer end? none the less I will defiantly weigh this up when purchasing my next home router. shame on you Cisco

What's the focus on porn? Last I checked it was totally legitimate and LEGAL for persons over the age of 18 to look at such things freely. I expected to just see anti-piracy.. not that I approve of that but seriously.. PORN?!

I am extremely satisfied with my Cisco router. However, I do NOT approve of this shady, invasive, eavesdropping ****. AFAIK, I don't have any Cisco-backed cloud crap on my router, and since I don't use their crappy network management software (one of the rare moments I applaud the lack of Linux support ;-)), I think I'm safe -- for now.

Now i have to deal with all the "Hey you supplied us with a Linksys Router, are we being spied on?!?!" calls.

They all use DD-WRT, i flash them before supplying them, explaining this to a user though is gonna be great fun!

Funny considering that blocking you from legal sites (i.e. porno sites) is infringing on your personal rights. Now if it was a family household, it's up to the parents to set up blocks, not the ****ing router company.

WOW
Good story
"Warez & Porn" ? LOL i love it

never owned a cisco router and seeing this would ensure that.
i wouldn't worry too much about this though. If companies wanna pull
crap like this, they will suffer the consequences in the long run..
Loss of business / bad reputation as well as possible hacking of their firmware etc

I think this is another sneeky move that is targeted towards the pc noobs
and sadly they are the majority and the entire world revolves around them.
I hate living in a world where everything is designed and engireered for retards.
I can't drink a coffee whith out seeing "WARNING 'IDIOT' ITS HOT" on it.
The moron douche bags on this earth lower quality of life for many.

Many people use a router for security reasons ..so uhh yeah good update LOL

But i guess if everyone else is doing some dumb cloud crap
then these guys have to as well, don't wanna be the only little douche
with out a hoola hoop or furby, tickle me elmo etc etc

And -- the revert to an old one will soon be a no-go due to the fact that they will yank them from their site.......

This is sad when a company can after purchase subject a user to different terms than when they bought it... I mean didn't the user already agree to terms when you first setup the router?... This I can see as some legal repercussions to this. This may fall in certain states as the "Bait and Switch" Laws being violated.

1. User buys router....
2. Turns it on and Agrees to the terms when setup first runs.
3 Unit updates to this .
4. User is required to Agree to more terms than they initially did.

That is a Bait and Switch plain and simple.

That is like you buy a computer Agree to run the software then they decide you can't view certain sites.

Stupid how individuals can't invade others privacy but corporations can. When stuff like this happens people have to fight back the only way they can, with their wallet. When enough people stop buying products and services for reasons like these companies would stop trying such things. I have a new Cisco router but its going to be my last.

this new cloud enabled firmware is quite the cesspool.
i updated my router without thinking and things just went to hell in a handbasket.
Slow access speeds, horrible laggy UI, lack of functionality (couldn't access certain menus at all)

As one might imagine, there was a huge backlash on the cisco home community forums - resulting in Cisco backpedaling and providing the "classic" firmware for download again.

Their support lines were supposedly quite jammed.
Huge huge mess.

Having said that, the "classic" Linksys interface we all know works fine.

I was about to buy the e3500 but now im looking towards netgear, any recommendations on a good netgear router for about $150?

3dfxman said,
I was about to buy the e3500 but now im looking towards netgear, any recommendations on a good netgear router for about $150?

E3200 do not have this firmware
I have it and it's a great router with the exception that 5ghz is not supported in DD-WRT

RouterBoard as main router E3200 as AP

NesTle said,

E3200 do not have this firmware
I have it and it's a great router with the exception that 5ghz is not supported in DD-WRT

RouterBoard as main router E3200 as AP


same here, but I use Asus as main router. and that's because Cisco routers are often 'incompatible' with our ISP's and end up having disconnects and reconnects way too often. with this news I think I'll never consider buying Cisco ever again, even if it does have superior hardware.

What The Fudge?
Thank God, We don't have their crap in here.

Companies in Israel, reprogram the Routers to work with their network.

xbamaris said,

Lol, Ironic...

Not really because they are not invading anyone's privacy. By using the device/accepting the policy you are agreeing to let them do it.

exotoxic said,

Not really because they are not invading anyone's privacy. By using the device/accepting the policy you are agreeing to let them do it.

I'm not arguing that. It's just ironic that they talk about privacy and stuff when this is a huge breach in privacy, regardless of if you agree or not.

I always regarded Cisco as one of the better makers of networking devices. Indeed I have often been
told that if there's anything Cisco don't know about networking, then it probably isn't worth knowing.

Unfortunately now though, while that might still ring true about the company, they have just officially
become evil with their new firmware policies. How in the living hell they think they can possibly get
away with forcing firmware with such nasty privacy invading features that bricks your router if you
don't accept it. The Thomson router I currently use is a bit crap, but certainly not evil.

This just screams of the Federal Government (Obama) and the MPAA... I'm appalled. We really need to not tolerate this Big Brother nonsense...

I'm not a tin foil hat kind of person, but they've been attempting steps in this direction since we had the misfortune of Obama getting in office... We need to change this.

M_Lyons10 said,
This just screams of the Federal Government (Obama) and the MPAA... I'm appalled. We really need to not tolerate this Big Brother nonsense...

I'm not a tin foil hat kind of person, but they've been attempting steps in this direction since we had the misfortune of Obama getting in office... We need to change this.

Just in case you didn't know, Obama isn't the federal government, he's the president... Never mind that the Republican party are the ones with a lower house majority and thus make many of the decisions that eventually become law in the US.

Obama is the president the American people need, not the one they deserve...

M_Lyons10 said,
This just screams of the Federal Government (Obama) and the MPAA... I'm appalled. We really need to not tolerate this Big Brother nonsense...

I'm not a tin foil hat kind of person, but they've been attempting steps in this direction since we had the misfortune of Obama getting in office... We need to change this.

This has been going on since long before Obama became the President.

M_Lyons10 said,
This just screams of the Federal Government (Obama) and the MPAA... I'm appalled. We really need to not tolerate this Big Brother nonsense...

I'm not a tin foil hat kind of person, but they've been attempting steps in this direction since we had the misfortune of Obama getting in office... We need to change this.

Were you asleep 2001-2009?

Right now even the Verizon story is based off the official Republican Party stance on corporations, which the Supreme court has 'overreached' to define in the past two years.

Do yourself a favor and look up - DOJ MPAA RIAA - and note that the Bush Administration DOJ went after people for the MPAA and RIAA more than the current administration.

It is odd that you specifcally call out the MPAA because of Chris Dodd, yet you DO NOT mention the RIAA with Mitch Bainwol.

Here, just in case you do not realize...
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mitch_Bainwol


Turn off Fox News and actually pay attention to what is happening in the world, if you want to participate.

I also seriously recommend some reading:
"Conscience of a Conservative" - Barry Goldwater

Then move up to:
"Conservatives Without Conscience " - John Dean (Goldwater worked with Dean before his death)

And finally:
"Pure Goldwater" - John Dean, Goldwater Jr.

Note that the Republican Party is NOT the Conservative Party, nor even holding to its basic ideals, as Goldwater put it, "Politics and governing demand compromise."


I personally lean left, but always enjoyed good debates with the conservative leaders, until they went freaking nuts and became a pool of Luntz bumper sticker logic.

Political ideals should NOT change based on Political gains and who is in power.

There is the need of a strong conservative movement in America, but it is the almost the complete opposite of the Tea Party and current Republicans Party.

The funny thing about modern US politics, If you follow the old school conservatism, you would find Obama to more of a Conservative than any of the Republican Leaders, even Ron Paul with his Socially maligned Libertarian viewpoints.


PS These are good books for people from any political background.

If you are liberal, you will find respect and understanding of the intellectual conservative movement, and if you are conservative, you will be reminded of what it means and find new appreciation and ways to express your viewpoints.

you really think it would matter which puppet is in office ?
I don't. And I also think that who ever gets put into office
has no choice but to deal with things is they are and have no
choice but to succumb to pressure from various sources.

I support freedom in every way possible but i bet if i was Pres.
i would be forced to 'tolerate' a lot policy simply because thats life..

ctrl_alt_delete said,
class action anyone?

If a class action goes ahead on this (which it definitely should), I'll be the FIRST person signing it in big BOLD felt marker!!!

-=MagMan=- said,

If a class action goes ahead on this (which it definitely should), I'll be the FIRST person signing it in big BOLD felt marker!!!
Hopefully you're doing this on principle and not for the hefty $2 settlement check.

yeah because I want to have to configure my LOCAL router through the internet and have it sending "usage" statistics to the mothership... just to be resold for a profit... just leave these darn devices local only devices...

neufuse said,
yeah because I want to have to configure my LOCAL router through the internet and have it sending "usage" statistics to the mothership... just to be resold for a profit... just leave these darn devices local only devices...

Agreed. If I want to manage it remotely I'll get a VPN Router...

Well I'll make sure to never update my Cisco router and that's the last one I'll ever buy. Netgear/DLink will get my business next.

rev23dev said,
What... the.... f***?

Was thinking about replacing my Cisco with a newer model but uh.... maybe not.


I have a Netgear WNDR3700 which I was considering to replace by the E4200v2 next month, but now, I will just take a shotgun to any Cisco device I see!

Good thing I own a Netgear router. Shame on you Cisco, you have no right to force this so called "feature" on your customers.

Just another reason why I dropped Cisco and went to Astaro. I will never recommend Cisco again, after their shenanigans.

Amodin said,
Just another reason why I dropped Cisco and went to Astaro. I will never recommend Cisco again, after their shenanigans.

Yes, I was VERY displeased with Cisco and moved to Draytek. I never looked back and am very happy with the decision.

funkydude said,
DD-WRT is about to shoot up in popularity!

Sadly, with the new routers, they stepped away from Broadcom to Marvell... No DD-WRT support right now and maybe not at all...

Broadcom wasn't really that well supported either, my WRT54GL always used an older kernel version (2.4) since that's the only release Broadcom supported, the open source version didn't have the same functionality.

I replaced it with a Netgear WNDR3800 running OpenWRT, quite an upgrade.

ahhell said,
WOW. How the **** do they think they'll get away with that?

Yeah, this is really insane. I'm glad I stopped using Cisco several years ago due to quality issues.

There are much better router companies out there...

ahhell said,
WOW. How the **** do they think they'll get away with that?

This has been the trend for a while now. They're above the law.

Open Minded said,

This has been the trend for a while now. They're above the law.

As long as we don't publicly finance elections in the US, the corporations will maintain undue influence over our elected officials via the campaign donations needed for media spending.

There is always going to be some influence, but we already have laws and systems in place to root out and deal with corruption. But today, even a good politician must spend 24/7 fundraising for his or her next election.

And no one has that kind of money except the corporate lobbyists and they always have strings attached.

excalpius said,

As long as we don't publicly finance elections in the US, the corporations will maintain undue influence over our elected officials via the campaign donations needed for media spending.

There is always going to be some influence, but we already have laws and systems in place to root out and deal with corruption. But today, even a good politician must spend 24/7 fundraising for his or her next election.

And no one has that kind of money except the corporate lobbyists and they always have strings attached.

Publicly finance elections? Are you nuts? Most anyone that even considers running for President is already so rich, they shouldn't be working anyway. Granted, they shouldn't be financed like they are either. They should flat out use their own money to comapaign! Bet that would also help cut down on all those totally stupid ads you see on tv!

As far as this fiasco with Cisco, this has to be against the law!! Yes, a class action lawsuit should be imminent! Glad my E2000 has Tomato firmware. Definitely will not buy another Cisco/Linksys. Then again, if Cisco gets away with this, you KNOW all others will follow.

It's funny because people don't want to admit to the internet policing and stuff so they accept it, just as long as they aren't labelled a part of the "tin foil hate brigade".