Belkin routers hijacking websurfing

Belkin’s routers hijack one http request every eight hours and redirect the user’s browser to an advertising page. Not good.

[Belkin][1] just lost any chance of getting business from me in the future.

[1]: http://www.belkin.com/ “Welcome to Belkin!”

It seems that with the latest firmware update to their routers, they have implemented a “feature” enabling unexpected, intrusive, unwanted advertising. Every eight hours, one http request (the information your browser sends when requesting a particular web page) is [hijacked and redirected to an advertising page][2] for a new parental control feature.

[2]: http://groups.google.com/groups?hl=en&lr=&ie=UTF-8&threadm=3FA87D03.E1C44EDE%40DutchElmSt.invalid&rnum=1&prev=/groups%3Fselm%3D3FA87D03.E1C44EDE%2540DutchElmSt.invalid “news.admin.net-abuse.email: [OT-evil marketing] Belkin does Verislime one better – router spam!”

> After the upgrade, on all our systems (wired or wireless), *valid* http requests are, for certain values of occasionally, redirected to a Belkin ad page!!!!

>

> […]

>

> It seems the router now supports a parental control and the market droids at Belkin got the bright idea of equipping the router with intrusive nagware. Of course, I have this strange notion that routers should pass data unmolested by marketeers! There is a “No Thanks” link on the page. Now I have to opt-out from commercials from my router??!!

This behavior was later [confirmed by Eric Deming][3], from Belkin.

[3]: http://groups.google.com/groups?hl=en&lr=&ie=UTF-8&threadm=3FA87D03.E1C44EDE%40DutchElmSt.invalid&rnum=1&prev=/groups%3Fselm%3D3FA87D03.E1C44EDE%2540DutchElmSt.invalid “news.admin.net-abuse.email: Re: [OT-evil marketing] Belkin does Verislime one better – router spam!”

Update: Eric Deming’s post has mysteriously disappeared from Google Groups. Damn, I knew I should have quoted from it as well.

Update 2: There is another post from Eric apologizing and claiming that [there will be a patch soon][4]. I’m still curious about the earlier post that suddenly went missing.

[4]: http://groups.google.com/groups?q=author:ericd%40belkin.com&hl=en&lr=&ie=UTF-8&selm=c91e821d.0311072000.4d34a84f%40posting.google.com&rnum=1 “[OT-evil marketing] Belkin does Verislime one better – router spam!”

Update 3: Bingo. One of the posts in the [/. thread][5] about this contains the [full text of Eric’s first message][6].

[5]: http://slashdot.org/articles/03/11/07/1740205.shtml?tid=126&tid=153&tid=95&tid=99 “/.: Belkin Routers Route Users to Censorware Ad”

[6]: http://slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=85076&cid=7419497 “/.: Re:Usenet thread”

This is nasty. At best, it’s low-down, slimy, intrusive, annoying marketing. At worst, it could cause everything from difficulties with web-based systems (imagine having the redirect kick in in the middle of a transaction on your bank’s website) to possible security holes (such as hackers taking control of the redirect [through affecting the routers, Belkin’s server, or DNS servers in between] and including a trojan or virus in the new target page).

Bye-bye, Belkin.

(via _[The Register][7]_, via the usual suspects)

[7]: http://www.theregister.co.uk/content/69/33858.html “Help! my Belkin router is spamming me”

Author: djwudi

Enthusiastic ambivert. Geeky, liberal, friendly, curious, feminist ally; trying to be a good person. (he/him)

6 thoughts on “Belkin routers hijacking websurfing”

  1. Great, so not only do we have to worry about spyware and spam on our computers, but now on our hardware as well?

    That’s like buying a new hard drive and having it overwrite my desktop wallpaper every 2 weeks to offer their defrag utility.

  2. My Belkin .11b router quit working on the wireless side, and I was just about to get another one…

    Thanks for the post.

    I wonder when the computer voice in cars will start doing this…

    “Thanks for driving a Cadillac. You now have 62 days remaining before our next model is available. Press 1 on your OnStar console within 30 seconds, or a sales rep will automatically contact you in 30 days.”

  3. I have a Belkin wireless router (54g or something like that). I thought you could disable this Parental Control thing and the redirect ads.

    When I bought it about two months ago, I too, experienced this problem. But it was at least possible for me to disable this redirect ads.

    Now, with the latest update, I’m not allowed to do this? I guess I won’t be updating anytime soon.

  4. Just to clarify, one can disable the the redirect, either by choosing “No Thanks” on the ad page you’re directed to, or by switching a setting on the router (as detailed in Eric Deming’s post linked above).

    Of course, if the page pops up and the user simply closes it on the assumption that it’s just more intrusive pop-up advertising, it will never get disabled. Also, while this situation may be covered in the manual for recently bought routers, people who upgrade from an older version of the firmware will have no documentation to explain what’s happening or how to disable it through the router interface.

    Ultimately, whether or not the redirect can be disabled isn’t really the point. The point is that simply in the name of marketing, Belkin is essentially taking control of their customer’s hardware and web browsing after the product is purchased, doing so without notification in the case of customers who have upgraded, and is forcing advertising upon people who may very well not want or appreciate the intrusion, merely in the name of a possible few sales of a new product somewhere down the line.

    It’s a despicable approach, and one that should be made known so that people can avoid having to deal with it — by avoiding purchasing Belkin’s products.

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