Can Comcast Snoop HomeNets using LinkSys Gateway?

Linksys, now a division of Cisco has recently been touting its deal with Comcast as a big win. Well, looks like there are some serious problems with this 802.11g/Modem gateway combo, according to some really smart folks. Now to others this might seem a little speculative, but well that’s that.

If you scroll through the press release, you come to a section which says that the gateway supports a CableHome 1.0 “for the ability to deliver secure, managed services from Comcast’s head-end network to the subscribers’ home network.” Now there is a big problem with this thing – for instance, the Cablehome 1.0 standard allows cable operators to snoop around their home networks and learn things such as how many computers are attached to the gateway and what kind of traffic they are generating/receiving. (Beware Vonage fans, this could be used to detect your Vonage ATA as well.)

In case you were wondering, where’s the juice. Go to the Cable Labs website and read this document. Scroll down to Section 6.3.1 and read:

bq. The goals for the CableHome Management Portal include:
* Enable viewing of LAN IP Device information obtained via the CableHome DHCP Portal (CDP)
* Enable viewing of the results of LAN IP Device performance monitoring done by the CableHome Test Portal (CTP)
* Provide the capability to disable LAN segments

What this means is that Comcast (and its peers) can use its immense clout and possibly shut down little companies like Vonage, and possibly prevent us from using our broadband connections in the way we want them to use. (Yeah we sign the contracts but sharing one connection in a household is not such a bad deal!) There was an article on Brian Roberts, which described him as the God Father – need I say more. I have emailed the folks at Comcast and LinkSys, and will post what they have to say.