Cisco Systems officials are trying to repair
the damage from the ham-fisted rollout of its Connect Cloud service, which
angered users of some of the companys Linksys wireless routers who suddenly
found they could no longer log in after an update, and then were told that
Cisco was collecting their Internet histories.
The problems started after Cisco made its new
Connect Cloud service available June 27. The service is designed to make it
easy for consumers to connect their myriad mobile devices to their WiFi
networks, and to manage those networks remotely via the mobile devices. Cisco
officials said the service takes care of the various tasks involved with
setting up and connecting devices to the network.
However, when the service went live, Cisco
automatically pushed out an update for its new Linksys
Smart WiFi routers
, which the company introduced several months ago and has
since reportedly sold more than 500,000. According to users, the update
automatically connected the routers to the Cisco Connect Cloud, and users were
unable to log in using the passwords they had used for their network management
interface. Instead, they were asked to sign up for Connect Cloud.
At the same time, security concerns were
to the policy, Cisco essentially could collect a wide variety of information on
users, from their Internet histories to the status of the network to the
Connect Cloud-related apps theyre using. The information was needed to help
Cisco better respond to concerns and requests, or improve the service.
At a time when Web users are particularly
keyed into issues of privacyas illustrated by the uproars caused by Facebook,
Google and similar Web companies when they make changes in their policiesthe
reaction to Ciscos maneuvers was quick and strident on such Websites as Slashdot
This is typical of the short-term thinking
that is all too common among corporations today, one user wrote on Slashdot
. They're throwing away their
credibility with professional usersyou know, the ones who buy the expensive
Cisco gear that generates most of their profitsso they can grab a few quick
bucks by data-mining the consumer market.
I'll never buy another Linksys product,
said another person. I don't want remote administration from the public Internet
side of a router.
Cisco officials have been trying to calm the
roiling waters since. The company has replaced the original offending security
policy graph with a more benign oneincluding removing the part about
collecting users Internet histories. In addition, in a blog
post June 29
, Brett Wingo, vice president and general manager of Ciscos
Home Networking unit, assured users that the company did not intend to violate
their sense of privacy.
Cisco prides itself on offering the best
customer experiences, and privacy and security are at the core of everything we
do, Wingo wrote. That goes for Cisco Connect Cloud, too. When a customer
signs up for a Cisco Connect Cloud account, personal information is used only
to establish an account in order to provide customer support. Consistent with
Ciscos practices, Cisco Connect Cloud does not actively track, collect or
store personal info or usage data for any other purposes, nor is it transmitted
to third parties.
Cisco officials also are looking to better
explain issues surrounding the automatic firmware updates and Connect Cloud
options. On the companys Website, officials laid
for returning the routers firmware to its original status
and ensuring that users no longer get automatic upgrades. Users also can call
Linksys customer support at 800-326-7114, and a customer service agent will
walk them through the process of reverting the router back to its
traditional set up.
Wingo also addressed it in his blog. Cisco
Connect Cloud was delivered only to consumers who opted in to automatic
updates, he said. However, we apologize that the opt-out process for Cisco
Connect Cloud and automatic updates was not more clear in this product release,
and we are developing an updated version that will improve this process.
Wingo said that Cisco takes the feedback its
gotten seriously, but hoped that despite the problems, users will give Cisco
Connect Cloud a try, though. I think youll find its a great way to simplify
how you connect, control and interact with your connected devices, including
personal entertainment and home appliances.