Make sure to change that admin password

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Router Security: don’t be too sure that you are safe

Posted on 14 December 2016 by Beaming Support

We can’t always rely on our home routers to protect us from the harsh realities of the internet.

If you have a consumer grade router given out with home broadband deals it’s likely that it won’t change or update often, which can make your router security weak. It gives hackers time to analyse the way they work and find possible ways to exploit them. If they manage to find a bug, they could use it on anyone else using the same router as you.

The risks

Big companies like TalkTalk and The Post Office have been targeted by hackers. They were able to cause a mass attack on people’s routers through a dangerous form of malware called a “Mirai Worm” which causes damage to vulnerable equipment on the network. The attack managed to shut down over a million users using the same brand of router distributed by TalkTalk and The Post Office, though the fault was quickly patched and fixed.

Virgin Media have also had to issue advice in the wake of a Which? investigation that found that hackers could gain access to their Super Hub 2 routers. Alongside the routers, Which? found that hackers were able to infiltrate users’ home networks via security camera systems, home appliances and even a Bluetooth enabled children’s toy. Virgin Media advise customers that the passwords to their Super Hub 2 routers should be changed immediately.

This all goes to show that we all need to be on alert and thinking about our own online security.

What could happen if your router was hacked:

  • Spying on your activities
  • Spoofing websites to steal passwords and credit card information
  • Changing what you’re downloading into malicious viruses
  • Storing your router in a Bot-Net to use for DDOS attacks

Get a better router

First things first, ideally you should upgrade from the consumer grade router as these are usually very basic. Instead go for a tried and tested router renowned for being safe. There are many options out there such as TP-Link, Linksys, Cisco, Juniper etc. Upgrading your router ensures that it is powerful enough to keep you safe from potential hackers. Router security is even more important if you are running a business or working from home.

How to protect yourself

Through the years there have been many types of exploits due to poor encryption or vulnerable protocols (WEP and WPS). We can’t always avoid this, but follow these tips below and you should have a sufficiently secure router, speak to your internet service provider if you are unsure:

  1. Change the admin password of the router, so if anyone managed to gain access to the network they wouldn’t have access to the router configuration
  2. Turn off WPS
  3. The Wi-Fi security encryption should be WPA2+AES (Not TKIP)
  4. Wi-Fi passwords should be long and random enough to withstand brute forces, but simple enough for you to remember. (Read our advice for choosing a secure password)
  5. Turn off Remote Administration/Web Access to stop attackers hitting your IP to log into your router
  6. Change your SSID (Router Name) to something more personal
  7. Make sure the router firmware is constantly updated

To conclude, router security is vital to keeping you safe on the internet., however we can’t always rely on our routers, virus defenders and firewalls to keep us safe. Stay on your toes and think twice about what you click on using the web.

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