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This article was published on January 28, 2010

    Linksys to Customers: Enjoy our Random Page Function

    Linksys to Customers: Enjoy our Random Page Function
    Jacob Friedman
    Story by

    Jacob Friedman

    Jacob is a tech blogger and IT professional living in Chicago, IL. Follow him on Twitter here, like him on facebook here, or email him here. Jacob is a tech blogger and IT professional living in Chicago, IL. Follow him on Twitter here, like him on facebook here, or email him here.

    linksys_1The newest series of Linksys Wireless-N routers appear to have a firmware bug that can cause random web page redirects.

    It appears that Linksys WRT160N v3 and WRT310N v2 routers have the bug, which is DNS-based. The bug manifests itself in random page redirects in both Macs and PCs. Earlier revisions of the routers do not seem to have the problem.

    The problem seems to stem from an error in the router’s DNS proxy service. For some reason, the router includes its own address as a potential DNS server.This causes DNS queries to either resolve incorrectly or not at all. It’s annoying to have a DNS query refuse to resolve, which results in 404 errors or blank webpages. However, it seems more common for the router to resolve these queries incorrectly. This returns the wrong IP address, which means that your query for Facebook can end up pulling up a Myspace page for Samuel Garcia (whose custom url ends in “/home.php?” the same ending as the home page of Facebook), or other sites you’ve never before visited.

    This is a big problem. Most reports have said that the page redirects have been sporadic and largely harmless, albeit annoying. However, it seems likely that it’s only a matter of time before one of these random redirects sends someone to a malware-infested site.

    At the moment, Linksys hasn’t released a firmware update to fix the problem. This is likely because most people experiencing this issue misdiagnose it as a virus infection. Whether this means that Linksys simply haven’t heard many complaints, or that Linksys is content to blame it on a virus when it’s clearly their error has yet to be seen. In any case, Linksys needs to fix this problem as soon as possible. If they don’t, they could end up with a lawsuit from virus-infected Linksys users.

    Disclosure: The author owns one of the affected routers. He has been redirected to sites as varied as Australia’s Seven TV, Ask Jeeves, The Wikimedia Foundation, and an Avatar Fan Forum. He did not originally intend to visit any of these sites.