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Sen. Warner Urges Internet Device Makers to Protect Products

A prominent senator has asked networking device manufacturers to make sure their devices are secure as broadband becomes the even-more-crucial connective tissue for a sheltering-in-place populace. 

Sen. John Warner

Sen. John Warner

In letters dated Wednesday, March 25, Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.), ranking member of the Intelligence Committee and a former telecom exec, is urging Google, Netgear, Belkin, Eero, Asus, and Commscope to make sure their wireless access points, modems, routers, network systems and other products "cannot be easily exploited to attack consumer systems and workplace networks." 

He said that as the pandemic spreads, there will be greater reliance on home networking and personal devices for broadband access and connectivity. 

“As the COVID-19 pandemic unfolds, Americans will depend on connectivity products to receive telehealth; remain connected with family, colleagues, employers, and friends; and to receive news reports, and guidance from government and public health officials,” wrote Warner. “During this time, the security of consumer devices and networks will be of heightened importance.” 

He called for timely security updates to mitigate known vulnerabilities and to let consumers know if their devices can no longer receive such updates and thus are not protected.  

Warner also pointed to his Internet of Things (IoT) Cybersecurity Improvement Act, introduced last year which would insure that device vendors have coordinated vulnerability mitigation programs.

Commscope signaled such security is already a part of its tech DNA.

"In these unprecedented times, the strength and reliability of networks are paramount, keeping people connected while they are physically apart," the company said in a statement. "CommScope has a 40-plus-year history in the telecommunications industry, and we take security threats seriously. We have a security team that reviews threats and we move rapidly to close vulnerabilities as threats are identified. We also work with our partners and service providers to update devices with the most up-to-date security measures including code updates to devices purchased by end consumers through retail channels."

John Eggerton
John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.