Web hijack riles Belkin router users

Belkin is trying to defuse a potentially embarrassing situation that arose after network administrators learned the company's routers can periodically hijack users' Web connection and display an advertisement for parental control software. Every eight hours, a random computer that's hooked up to a local area network may receive an unsolicited advertisement for a trial version of parental control software, instead of the Web page the person had hoped to visit. The behavior can be permanently disabled, but it is turned on by default in new Belkin routers when they are shipped.

"We are crafting a statement apologizing and accepting responsibility," a Belkin representative said on Monday. The company said a firmware update, which customers would have the choice of installing, would be available in a week. Kannyn MacRae, a business unit manager at Belkin, said the advertisements only appear when a customer closes a window in the installation process instead of selecting either the "yes" or "no" options for the 6-month trial.

"If the customer closes the window without giving an answer, then eight hours later they'll be asked again if they want to turn it on or turn it off," MacRae said. The controversy began on Nov. 4, when a post on the Usenet newsgroup news.admin.net-abuse.email said the unwanted behavior appeared in a router software revision dated Sept. 15, and concluded: "One thing's for sure, I'm never going to buy another Belkin product!"

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News source: ZDNet

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