back to article Countless Belkin routers go TITSUP in massive mystery meltdown

A large number of Belkin routers were knocked off the internet on Tuesday, owing to an as-yet-unexplained glitch. It's not known how many routers were affected, but it was a lot of them and quite possibly worldwide, all at once. Complaints began popping up on Twitter shortly after midnight Eastern time, with some customers …

  1. Marketing Hack Silver badge
    Black Helicopters

    Ooooooooooooo!!!!

    Can I be the first to say that it was the NSA or GCHQ, conducting a test of their Belkin router back door across the whole of the internet???

    (The sad part is that you have to view that as at least something of a possibility....)

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Dude, I was thinking the same thing!

    1. Nate Amsden

      I was thinking more along the lines of

      "I felt a great disturbance in the Force, as if thousands of routers suddenly cried out in terror, and were suddenly silenced"

      1. dan1980

        I was thinking more along the lines of it being an update server that became unavailable because some mid-level tech upset an ancient and little-understood chain of complicated routes, or a DNS update being incorrectly added or something (which would explain the work-around).

        Or yeah, it could be something snooping on you or whatever, but the real question is to ask why an unreachable server would make the router throw such a tantrum.

        Very poor design somewhere along the line.

      2. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

        "I felt a great disturbance in the Force, as if thousands of routers suddenly cried out in terror issued SNMP alerts, and were suddenly silenced"

        FTFY.

        "That's no moon! It's a MIB." "I have a very bad feeling about this."

  3. Sureo

    So who owns the router, the customer who paid for it or Belkin?

  4. Nolveys
    Mushroom

    Hard To Diagnose

    The difference between functional and broken Belkin hardware is infinitesimal. I wonder how they noticed this issue. Perhaps large groups of Belkin routers inexplicably started routing traffic properly?

    From experience I do know how to tell if a Belkin UPS is working properly. If all the equipment attached to the UPS is on fire and the UPS's transformer is performing a china syndrome then the unit is operating according to specification.

    The above little tidbit of knowledge isn't of much use anymore as Belkin stopped manufacturing UPSes after their last factory worker was transferred to the QA department and was promptly electrocuted.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Hard To Diagnose

      The difference between functional and broken Belkin hardware is infinitesimal

      Upvote :)

    2. jelabarre59 Silver badge

      Re: Hard To Diagnose

      That was along the lines omy own thought on it. The best way to make a Belkin router go titsup is to plug it in. I have had 3 or 4 of them, considering whether you invoke a Tennant Rule and count a replacement unit as one or two. All 4 have died well before their time.

  5. R42

    When questioning if it's incompetence or evil...

    ... it's usually incompetence.

    But it would be fun to believe it was a failed test of the Super Belkin Bot Net Army.

  6. Old Used Programmer

    My take-away from this is: Don't buy Belkin.

    But, then, I came to that conclusion many years ago over other equipment they made.

    1. Stretch

      This is true, but I am yet to find a company of which it is not true.

    2. Dylbot

      But how else am I supposed to buy a VGA cable for forty quid?

      Oh, wait, Maplin still exists. Never mind, carry on.

    3. Alan J. Wylie

      http://www.theregister.co.uk/2003/11/07/help_my_belkin_router/

      > The marketing geniuses at Belkin, the consumer networking vendor, have dreamed up a new form of spam - ads served to your desktop, by way of its wireless router

      > The router would grab a random HTTP connection every eight hours and redirect it to Belkin’s (push) advertised web page.

  7. This post has been deleted by its author

  8. AustinTX

    Deja-vu from the e-book DRM article

    Yet another consumer device which stops working when it can't phone home. I don't need my refrigerator asking for permission to cool my beer. I hope my DD-WRT router doesn't do this as a consequence of being free firmware.

    1. DropBear Silver badge
      Coat

      Re: Deja-vu from the e-book DRM article

      Is it sad that I didn't even need to read the article to suspect it was a phone-home server suddenly going unreachable, and the devices hard-coded not to work in that case...? Should we just accept it as an immutable law of the universe that exactly the same way engineers will always tend to leave an open UART with root access and programmers will always tend to code in a back door bypass, companies will always tend to require their product to "keep in touch" (purely for your own good, of course, and the sake of CHILDREN!)...? Aaaaaanyway, mine is the one hanging from the CAT5 from my Tomato router...

  9. J__M__M

    I think I get it now

    So this is what they mean by a cloud-enabled router, right?

  10. Ken Moorhouse Silver badge

    STOP PRESS: Belkin staff unable to enter offices

    Belkin staff were amazed to find their office block completely covered in Laptop Bags this morning.

    Police officers had been scratching their heads as to why millions of people had had their laptops stolen simultaneously at midnight last night. "This is where they all are" police spokesman Fred Bloggs told us earlier, on condition of a None Enimity.

    1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
      Paris Hilton

      Re: STOP PRESS: Belkin staff unable to enter offices

      I don't get it? Is this a reference to a PKD story?

  11. Robert Jenkins

    It's not just Belkin..

    I've seen a number of instances of intermittent loss of connectivity over the last few months, with people on different ISPs and with different makes of routers.

    In every case, it's been DNS failures and moving the PCs / devices off the ISP DNS or it's router proxy has cured the problem.

    Belkin may be more susceptible, but it's not a problem limited to their gear.

  12. Gotno iShit Wantno iShit

    Hmmm, I wonder if I can work out what squirting packets for Belkin's benefit has cost me in electricity & bill them. It'll be a microscopic fraction of a penny but once I add on administration fees it should be a useful contribution towards the replacement.

  13. Decade
    Linux

    Do not buy Belkin

    The hardware looks pretty enough, but I do not trust Belkin's software. So let's use an open-source firmware. Oh look, Belkin does not post the open-source software that runs on their routers, and many of them use proprietary drivers and locked bootloaders. For example, the Belkin-Linksys WRT1900AC, announced with great fanfare as an "OpenWRT" router, but not actually supported.

    Belkin used to be fine-but-overpriced when they were just a Mac accessory rebrander, but if there's a firmware involved, then I will stay away.

  14. james 68

    Sounds to me like they updated the firewall on their heartbeat machine which then viewed all those multiple pings from all over the world as some kind of DDoS attack and blocked them.

    So stupid that it explains why they wont admit to it and it explains all the known facts so far.

  15. eJ2095

    Belkin

    ... Try to download more then two things at once and it goes into melts down and dies...

    Sounds like a normal day then for Belkin

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Sounds pretty much par for the course with Belkin hardware really. I struggle to understand how a company so bad at making hardware can not go bankrupt. It wouldn't be so bad but it's not like they are even cheap!

  17. batfastad

    D-Link

    Belkin vs D-Link, undecided which is worse after all these years. So I tend to avoid both.

    1. itzman

      Re: D-Link

      actually D-link has been one of my better routers.

      At the bottom is

      Belkin,

      TPLINK

      Netgar

      D-LINK.

      Billion

      Cisco.

      For the home ADSL routers I have had experience of anyway.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: D-Link

        "For the home ADSL routers I have had experience of anyway."

        A home US Robotics ADSL router had to be scrapped because it didn't have any way of doing a factory reset. Someone had borrowed it - then had forgotten their management password when they returned it.

  18. Andrew Denton 1

    Belkin kit in "a bit shit" shocker.

    Who'd have thunk it?

  19. David Gosnell

    Never trusted

    Never really trusted Belkin for, well, anything - but least of all their DNS resolution. I did briefly use a router of theirs, but it displayed a very weird bug of occasionally and inexplicably transposing bytes in looked-up IP addresses. It's for emergencies only now, and didn't work last time I tried it anyway.

  20. grawity

    So they basically told everyone to turn it off and on again?

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Every Belkin router I have ever come across

    Has failed in strange and mysterious ways.

    So now they have all just committed suicide instead.

    The world may breathe again.

  22. DerekCurrie

    Was this a Bash bug attack on Belkin routers?

    Probably not. But we're going to be hearing a lot about PWNed routers in the very near future because they're susceptible to the Bash bugs and haven't been patched.

    It's time we had a public list of susceptible routers and users yelling at their manufactures as to why there isn't already a firmware update out to kill the Bash bugs.

    In the meantime: Go into the settings for your router and turn OFF logging into the router from the Internet, unless of course you require that feature. That single setting change may save your router while we wait for the complete solution to the Bash bug mess.

    1. Adrian 4 Silver badge

      Re: Was this a Bash bug attack on Belkin routers?

      Do you actually know that any routers use bash ? It seems rather big for a router, which are not fitted with a huge amount of storage. Even an intentionally tweakable firmware like OpenWRT uses ash.

  23. JaitcH
    Thumb Up

    Ah, another insecure piece of US-sold hardware!

    Should have bought TP-Link or Huawei network switches and routers - they are certified NSA and GCHQ unfriendly.

  24. cortland

    If it's Tuesday

    This must be a Mcirosfot Update. Oh, it wasn't? Are you SURE?

  25. razorfishsl

    Seen this before with other kit.......

    Some scruffy manufacturer decides to setup a 'secret' heartbeat server,, hundreds of thousands of products contact heartbeat server.

    some idiot updates server, then server thinks it is under attack. mass disconnects and blockages of 'offending' ip addresses.

    The question Belkin users should be asking themselves, is what happens if Belkin goes bust.

    some Chinese & Taiwan manufacturers do this with their kit as well.

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