Routers and privacy and cloud management

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MichaelRSorg

Well-known member
Nov 1, 2020
108
17
routersecurity.org
As we saw in the Ubiquiti scandal, more and more routers are married to the cloud service offered by the hardware vendor. There is certainly a place for this, but anyone concerned with security would rather not have their router depend on or communicate with a cloud service. Peplink/Pepwave offers 4 choices in this area. Their cloud service (InControl) can be turned on or off. It can also be set to read-only and self-hosted. See attached images.

Still, even without a cloud management service, a router may still be phoning home. I found, for example, that a Synology RT2600ac phoned home often. Why? Good question.

The default state of affairs for a Linksys router that I configured recently was also to phone home to Linksys with telemetry. And even after disabling that, it continued to be ping-happy frequently trying to contact Amazon Web Services. Linksys definitely wants you to have a Linksys account, but if you know the secret handshake you can get around that. The router included a speed test, but that came with a privacy policy from OOKLA. Ugh. And, it seems like you can not change the router password if its off-line.

Speaking of privacy, there are privacy implications to routers that include "anti-virus" software as this article points out

A couple years back, Netgear quietly introduced telemetry into their router firmware. Customers could disable it, but it was enabled by default. Now, you even need a cloud account to use all the features of a Netgear smart switch
https://www.theregister.com/2020/09/21/netgear_mandatory_registration_switches/

I am no fan of Google routers, but both the old and new mobile apps for managing them offer some choices as to how much data they report back to the mother ship.

So, a review of all the settings for your router would be a good thing to do.
 

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One hopes at least one of the reasons they check back to HQ is to make sure any pressing security updates are automatically applied. (Yes I can hear you rolling on the floor laughing... but we can dream about quality security fixes being applied without new features also being installed, right?)