Straight, No Chaser
Sorry folks, there’s no clever title or snarky intro for this episode. But the truth is, it’s time to boycott Linksys. Why? Because they’re spying on you.
Routers are devices that connect to your cable or DSL modem and allow you to connect multiple computers to the Internet. They also contain a component called a firewall, which is a passive security device that protects you from “crank callers,” namely Windows computers in your neighborhood that are spewing out viruses. Finally, most offer wireless connection to your laptops, smartphones, and tablets.
For the past few years I’ve been whole-heartedly recommending AGAINST Linksys routers. Especially those newer black ones that look like cool UFOs:
Not only are these devices physically unreliable (some die within a year), but they also install bloatware. Lots and lots and lots of bloatware. (Hear it straight from frustrated consumers here: http://glocktalk.com/forums/archive/index.php/t-1289532.html)
Bloatware is software designed to nag you and slow your computer down. It has no other purpose. Some of it may even spy on you (as is the case with HP Printer Software). As an added bonus, Linksys bloatware also causes computers to crash.
So, when you buy Linksys routers, they come with a CD that you THINK you need in order to set up your router. You may even take it a step further and install it on all the computers in your house, THINKING you need it on all of them! It then bogs EVERY computer down, uses them to call home and checks for useless updates, and nags you every five seconds with warnings and technical information you don’t need to know.
But wait, there’s more!
Here’s the deal. The bloatware was despicable enough. One call to me and I can eradicate it. But recently they’ve gone further. They realized that some people refuse to install the software from the CD, so they became sneakier. They now embed SPYWARE and FORCED UPDATES into their new routers. You can’t even MANAGE your OWN router without signing up for their “Cloud Connect”
garbage Service. (I understand many online services will require a subscription or at least a free account – but requiring an account and depending on a company to manage your OWN devices is ENTIRELY UNNECESSARY.)
Now folks, I use the word spyware liberally, and I am a bit of a libertarian, but when the Dell Support Forums “Virus-Spyware” section reveals this malarkey to the world, we’ve got a problem. Read the article here.
Again, the irony here is amazing. In the author’s words: “I consider my router an essential component of my layered security” – the Linksys device is supposed to PROTECT you from threats. They’re turning on their own customers.
The crowd goes Wild
There are many articles, such as this one, that show you how to disable the Cisco Connect spyware. However, there’s a certain point where no matter how cool the car is, you shouldn’t have to replace the engine the day you buy it. Hopefully this thing will go big and the market will put pressure on Linksys to suck a little bit less.
Cashing In… Selling Out
This article and this article explain the stealth coup d’etat. Get this – software SNEAKS IN to your device and CHANGES or CRIMPS your features. Basically someone at Linksys is using the “Management by Magazine Article” method, heard the buzzword Cloud, and is now attempting to monetize this buzzword. Nice job, doofus.
This isn’t the first time that a router manufacturer turned sour. Even Belkin, my favorite marque of router, betrayed its customers around 10 years ago. Luckily articles were published to BRING THIS TO LIGHT, they were caught red-handed, apologized, and eventually became my favorite brand of router!
I sincerely hope Linksys (and its parent Cisco) is reading this now. Not just some statistic-recording computer, but a human being with the power to pull the plug on this outrage.
Again, if you have one of the older Linksys/Cisco routers, and have been infected with the bloatware CD that came with it, not a huge deal. But if you have one of the 2012 models, THROW IT AWAY. Better yet, soak it in manure and mail it back to them. Manure is also a good buzzword.