U.S. sues D-Link, alleges lax security in routers, cameras

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By Diane Bartz and Jim Finkle | WASHINGTON/BOSTON

WASHINGTON/BOSTON The U.S. Federal Trade
Commission filed a lawsuit against D-Link Corp on
Thursday, accusing the Taiwan-based manufacturer of failing to
take reasonable steps to protect its routers and internet-linked
security cameras from hackers.

The FTC brought the charges as part of a broader effort to
improve security of internet-connected devices, including
routers, webcams, digital video recorders and other widely used
consumer electronics devices.

The company said in a statement it would “vigorously defend
itself against the unwarranted and baseless charges”.

The FTC “fails to allege, as it must, that actual consumers
suffered or are likely to suffer actual substantial injuries,”
it added.

Concerns about security of internet-connected devices, which
are sometimes referred to collectively as the internet of
things, or IoT, have surged since last year when hackers used
armies of compromised routers, webcams and other electronic
devices to launch a series of increasingly powerful attacks that
severed access to some of the world’s biggest websites.

Security experts blamed those attacks on lax security in
large numbers of IoT devices from dozens of manufacturers. They
have called on the industry to better secure their equipment,
removing easy-to-exploit vulnerabilities such as the use of
default passwords that give hackers the keys to remotely access
machines over the web.

Allison Nixon, director of security research with cyber
intelligence firm Flashpoint, said the FTC’s action could
encourage IoT manufacturers to beef up security.

“I think vendors are going to take it seriously,” she said. “The IoT world needs to shape up quickly because this is a big
problem.”

The FTC’s complaint alleged that D-Link neglected to
protect the devices from “widely known and reasonably
foreseeable risks of unauthorized access,” even as it
highlighted security features in communications with consumers.

The FTC asked the U.S. District Court for the Northern
District of California to order D-Link to improve its security
practices and to pay the agency’s legal costs.

The agency filed the case after issuing guidelines on
securing IoT devices in 2015.

FTC commissioners voted 2-1 to approve the filing of the
lawsuit. The Democratic chairwoman Edith Ramirez and
commissioner Terrell McSweeny voted yes, but the lone Republican
commissioner, Maureen Ohlhausen, opposed the filing of the
lawsuit. (Additional reporting by J.R. Wu in Taipei)



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