Some managed Netgear switches suddenly need a cloud account to use its full UI. Also may not update security. Time to change vendor.

Netgear has decided that users of some of its managed network switches don’t need access to the equipment’s full user interface – unless they register their details with Netgear first.

For instance, owners of its 64W Power-over-Ethernet eight-port managed gigabit switch GC108P, and its 126W variant GC108PP, need to hand over information about themselves to the Netgear Cloud to get full use out of the devices.

“Starting from firmware version 1.0.5.4, product registration is required to unlock full access to the local browser user interface,” said the manufacturer in a note on its website referencing a version released in April this year.

The latest build, 1.0.5.8, released last week, continues that registration requirement. These rules also appear to apply to a dozen or so models of Netgear’s kit, including its GS724TPP 24-port managed Ethernet switch.

“I recently bought a couple of Netgear Managed Switches for business, and in their datasheet they list local-only management as a feature. Only after they arrived we discovered that you only get limited functionality in the local-only management mode, you have to register the switches to your Netgear Cloud account to get access to the full functionality,” fumed one netizen on a Hacker News discussion thread. “I would not have bought the switches if I had knew I needed to register them to Netgear Cloud to have access to the full functionality specified in the data sheet.”

It appears the Silicon Valley giant is aware that not everyone will rush to create a cloud account to manage their network hardware because it has published a list of functions that one can freely access without said registration – for now, anyway.

We’ve asked Netgear to explain the move. The manufacturer most recently made the headlines when, after being informed of a security flaw in a large number of product lines, promptly abandoned half of them rather than issue a patch.

Professor Alan Woodward of the University of Surrey, England, opined: “It’s a conundrum because it is software and you do have only a licence to use it: you don’t own it so one might argue this helps protect intellectual property rights. However, that’s different for the hardware which is pretty useless without the software.”

Woodward pointed to Netgear’s online privacy policy, which, like every other company on the internet, states that data from customers and others can be hoovered up for marketing purposes, research and so on (see section 11).

Source: Before you buy that managed Netgear switch, be aware you may need to create a cloud account to use its full UI • The Register