RealTek cards with an EEPROM (does not work with EPROMs :-)) allow to be reprogrammed with a DOS tool, so the answer to your first question is: inb and outb. Of course, that requires that someone has access to the box itself first. As for remote updatesas the article mentionsyou probably just upload the new firmware through telnet, tftp or a webinterface. If you are lucky, it may be SSL'ed. Authenticity? What authenticity? Only a checksum on the file to make sure it was not corrupted during the transfer but other than that, perhaps a username/password for login, but otherwise, nope.
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