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New NETGEAR Router Firmware Snoops on Your Network and Internet Link

Tuesday, May 23rd, 2017 (7:49 am) - Score 1,099
netgear nighthark r7000

Owners of NETGEAR‘s R7000 Nighthawk WiFi router family (other models may follow) have complained after a new firmware update (v1.0.8.34) was pushed out that enables “analytics data connection” by default, which sends details about your network and Internet connection back to the company.

At present the new firmware has only just started its initial automatic deployment phase and as a result many devices have yet to be updated (note: you can’t yet download it from their website), although those that receive it have found that the option for “Router Analytics Data Collection” is now selectable and marked as ‘Enabled’ under this menu area: ‘ADVANCED > Administration > Router Update‘.

netgear_router_analytics

A support entry on NETGEAR’s website explains how to disable the feature in more detail, although the fact that it comes enabled by default is the worrying part, especially when you consider what it’s tracking.

NETGEAR Statement on Analytics Data Collection

Technical data about the functioning and use of our routers and their WiFi network can help us to more quickly isolate and debug general technical issues, improve router features and functionality, and improve the performance and usability of our routers.

Such data may include information regarding the router’s running status, number of devices connected to the router, types of connections, LAN/WAN status, WiFi bands and channels, IP address, MAC address, serial number, and similar technical data about the use and functioning of the router, as well as its WiFi network.

The description is worryingly open-ended and sadly the company’s Privacy Policy does little to elaborate on this change. Suffice to say that those concerned about their privacy might wish to disable the feature. Meanwhile NETGEAR owners have been discussing the issue on the manufacturers’ community site (examples here and here) and there are concerns that the approach could be expanded to other models.

It’s worth pointing out that ISP supplied broadband routers may share some similar data with your broadband provider as part of the remote management system, although you’d expect your internet provider to know your IP address and other personal details as otherwise it would be difficult to deliver a working service.

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Mark Jackson
By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he is also the founder of ISPreview since 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on Twitter, , Facebook and Linkedin.
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4 Responses
  1. Darren

    Will be avoiding anything netgear now.

    • Ultraspeedy

      LOL you will have to avoid more brands than just them. Better never connect any ISP supplied gear (especially anything with custom ISP firmware)

      Oh and you can forget about routers which come with Admin, User and Support login options. LOL

    • Darren

      aha, smart arese is it. Nice one troll.. obviously it doesn’t extend to kit out of my control – loser! LOL

    • Ultraspeedy

      Oh so many questions, for such a silly statement lets start with the obvious…

      Which devices do you have no control over plugging in?

      How do you know in advance of any router purchase or ISP supplied gear if it reports anything back home or not?

      Have wifi radio wave done something to you?

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