Despite FCC Rules, Linksys Will Keep Their Routers Open and Let You Hack Them
Back in 2015, the FCC introduced new regulations that looked like a threat to anyone looking to hack and install open source firmware on their routers. They backed down , but many manufacturers are still blocking their devices , just in case. Linksys, which the company just announced, is not one of them.
In its defense, the FCC clarified its own rules back in 2015, pointing out that their goal is never to stop users from hacking and tweaking their own electronics, but to reduce interference with FAA Doppler radar systems, which the FCC has noted often come from consumer devices. that have been reconfigured to operate outside of their normal frequency ranges (in particular, devices with dynamic frequency selection or DFS are disabled, a feature already available in the standard firmware of most consumer routers).
Linksys says that while blocking custom firmware (as TP-Link plans to do ) will be an easier way to comply with the new rules, security can be enabled to prevent DFS from being disabled without completely blocking the router, which is what they plan to do.
Ars Technica explains:
Any 5 GHz routers sold on or after June 2 must include security measures to prevent such changes. But router manufacturers can still allow open source firmware downloads if they also deploy controls that prevent devices from operating outside of allowed frequencies, modulation types, power levels, etc.
It takes more work than just blocking third-party firmware, but Linksys, a division of Belkin, put in extra effort. The company says that on and after June 2, recently sold Linksys WRTs will store RF data in a separate memory area to protect it from firmware. This will allow users to download open source firmware just like they do now.
Other Linksys routers, such as Max-Stream devices, will block open source firmware. But continuing to support the WRT line is a natural move for Linksys, given that third-party OpenWrt and DD-WRT firmware was originally built for the company’s WRT54G routers over a decade ago.
So, good guy, Linksys, although their decision is clearly not only technical, but also marketing in nature. No other vendors have spoken out on either side of the debate yet (which means they’ll likely lock themselves out), but the developers of OpenWRT, one of our favorite custom firmwares , tell Ars Technica that Linksys is the only one who has approached him with clear support.
You can read more and get the full backstory at the link below.