The move comes as the networking company tries to stem consumer backlash to management and privacy issues raised by the launch of its Cisco Cloud Connect service June 27.
Cisco Systems officials are continuing to try
to calm customers still riled up over the automated updates to some of their
Linksys wireless routers, most recently by announcing that Cisco
will no longer be the default management tool.
The move follows a week and a half of
consumer backlash to Ciscos clumsy rollout June 27 of the Cloud Connect
service, which raised not only questions about the automated updates to the
management tools for the companys Linksys Smart WiFi routers, but also security
Consumers took to sites like Facebook and Slashdot
to express their anger with
Cisco. One user on Slashdot
that they were pretty sure that this wasn't a case of mere stupidity, brought
on by poor, poor, management's exposure to too many buzzwords. This is a
straightforward control grab, an overt attempt to turn a low-margin hardware
sale into an ongoing data harvesting and customer lock-in opportunity.
For their part, Cisco executives have been
addressing consumer concerns, and have apologized twice in posts on the Cisco
blog from Brett Wingo, vice president and general manager of Ciscos Home
Networking unit. In a July
, Wingo tried to address issues raised by users and noted that the
company itself was the source of much of the confusion.
We believe lack of clarity in our own terms
of service has contributed to many of our customers concerns, and we apologize
for the confusion and inconvenience this has caused, Wingo wrote. We take
responsibility for that lack of clarity, and we are taking steps to make this
Users negative reactions began soon after
Cisco Cloud Connect launched July 27. The service is designed to enable
consumers to easily connect their multiple mobile devices to their WiFi
networks, and to manage those networks remotely via the mobile devices. Cisco
officials said the service deals with many of the tasks involved with setting
up and connecting devices to the network.
Those users with Linksys EA2700, EA3500 and
EA4500 routers soon found that automated updates had been pushed to their
hardware, and that rather than being able to log onto the routers as they had
been doing and getting access to traditional management tools, they were being
brought to a page through which they could sign up for Cisco Cloud Connect.
Consumer angst was heightened when users read
stated that 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,
according to the company.
In addition, the wording appeared to ban
users of those routers from going on online for "obscene, pornographic or
Cisco officials quickly changed the wording
in the policy, including removing the part about collecting users Internet
histories. In addition, they have also stressed that the companys Cloud
Connect is an optional service that isnt required for using a Linksys EA
router, and have simplified the process for opting out of the service.
The default setting was changed back to the
traditional router setup and management.
If a customer chooses not to set up a
Cisco Connect Cloud account, they can manage their router with the current
local management software, Ciscos Wingo wrote in his blog post.
Those who have signed up for the cloud
service and want to return to local management software can do so by contacting
the Linksys customer support line at 800-326-7114 or going through the online
. In addition, software updates will not be pushed to routers where
the auto-update service has been switched off.
Wingo also reiterated that Cisco doesnt
collect Internet usage information through the routers, and that the company
wont disconnect customers from the Internet based on usage. The only
information collected is needed for signing up and support for Cisco Cloud
Connect, he said.
If a customer signs up for the Cisco Connect
Cloud service, they are asked to provide a new username, a password, and an
email address, which is required to set up the account, Wingo wrote. When the
customer sets up a Cisco Connect Cloud account, they are asked to provide a
local administrative password for the EA Series router to associate it with a
Cisco Connect Cloud account. Cisco does not store this local administrative