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Vint Cerf and 260 Experts Give FCC a Plan to Secure Wi-Fi Routers

By Computerworld

October 16, 2015

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A group of 260 network and cybersecurity experts, including Google chief Internet evangelist and former ACM president Vint Cerf, have sent an open letter to the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) critiquing the agency's recently proposed rules for Wi-Fi routers and RF devices and offering an alternative proposal.

The FCC's proposed new rules are meant to improve the security and performance of the Internet, but one document in particular sparked fears among some that the agency planned to ban open source router firmware such as DD-WRT and Tomato. The letter says an open source approach is the only way to ensure the security of Wi-Fi routers, many of which it says ship with "ancient code, rife with security holes and bugs."

The letter recommends the FCC instead require that all software-defined radio, wireless, or Wi-Fi radio vendors make their device drivers and radio firmware public in order to maintain FCC compliance. Vendors also should be certain that shipped routers include secure firmware and that router owners have ultimate control over updates.

In addition, the letter says vendors should provide regular updates to keep up with regulations and patch disclosed security vulnerabilities. It also asked the FCC to "review and rescind" rules that conflict with open source best practices.

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