A recent update to some of Cisco's Linksys Wi-Fi routers has left some users upset and confused, leading to a quick reversal by the company. Last week, users whose newer high-end Linksys routers (the EA4500, EA3500 and EA2700) were set to receive automatic firmware updates found themselves asked to log in to Cisco Connect Cloud, an online management system that provides administrative access from outside the local network. Users who did not sign up were given a much more limited version of the old local interface, with no option to revert to the previous system. Although Cisco had been open about eventually instituting a cloud-based interface, the change caught many by surprise. After several days of complaints, the company provided instructions for rolling back the changes and turning off automatic updates.
While some users simply didn't have any need for Connect Cloud, others worried about potential privacy risks. According to Computerworld, the terms of service noted that users' network traffic and (in some cases) internet history would be stored through Connect Cloud, and that Cisco "may share aggregated or anonymous user experience information with service providers contractors or other third parties." As of today, that section is no longer in the Connect Cloud policy; instead, users are simply told that "Cisco may collect and store detailed information regarding your network configuration and usage for the purpose of providing you technical networking support."
The company has since clarified its policy in a blog post, apologizing that "the opt-out process for Cisco Connect Cloud and automatic updates was not more clear in this product release" and saying that "personal information is used only to establish an account in order to provide customer support." It is apparently working on another software patch that will make it easier to turn off further updates.