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New NETGEAR Router Firmware Snoops on Your Network and Internet Link

Tuesday, May 23rd, 2017 (7:49 am) - Score 2,325

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 also founded ISPreview in 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on X (Twitter), Mastodon, Facebook and .
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