All in all, FTDI’s counter-counterfeit maneuvers are just another brick in a wall that pirates will bypass and customers will run into.
A driver update from the Scottish electronics firm FTDI that intentionally “bricked” USB devices with counterfeit FTDI chips has been removed from Windows Update by the firm. The move follows an uproar from users who found devices they thought used the company’s chips disabled without warning. However, the company plans on re-releasing the update with code that “will still uphold our stance against devices that are not genuine, but do so in a non-invasive way that means there is no risk of end user’s hardware being directly affected,” the company’s CEO said in a statement.
While the changes made in the firmware of chips affected by the driver’s counter-counterfeiting code can be reversed, there are questions about whether what FTDI did in the name of protecting the company’s intellectual property was ethical—or even legal. Commenting on FTDI’s driver tactics through Twitter, American Civil Liberties Union principal technologist Christopher Soghoian said, “It isn’t a stretch to view FTDI’s intentional bricking of chips as an unfair business practice.” Others were concerned that the move undermined the security of Windows’ automatic update system, possibly discouraging users from applying security updates in the future.
In a post to the company’s blog, FTDI CEO Fred Dart apologized for the move.
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