Routers are among the most important internet devices we use today. Almost all internet connectivity is router-based and so they have a major role to play in both business and private domains.
Can Routers be Infected by Virus or Malware?
It is not very commonly known that routers work on operating systems and have user interfaces. This makes them much like everyday computers only that their operating systems are very basic. And even though their systems aren’t advanced, they are still susceptible to all kinds of malware.
What is even more troubling is that the attack methods for router infecting are not so well known. As a result, people might have their routers hacked and not even be aware of it.
How Does Router Security Differ from Device Security?
In terms of sheer frequency, internet-enabled devices are far more frequent than any router. In fact, unlike most internet devices, routers mostly cannot be updated digitally. A person, mostly a technician, must apply the update manually through a lengthy process.
The lack of regular updates means routers become very viable targets for hackers and cybercriminals. Also, since routers are used to channel internet connectivity to all network devices, they are ideal for larger hacks. Any kind of unencrypted connection will be subject to malicious injections if the router is compromised.
Also, compromised routers are harder to detect. Since it is difficult to ascertain where the connectivity errors come from, determining the router’s status is complicated. This can lead to delays in detection and by then, the damage might already be done.
How Can You Protect Your Router?
Generally speaking, the easiest way to hack a router is to gain access to it physically. So, it is best to keep all access to routers prohibited. They should be kept in places where unauthorized people cannot gain access. This minimizes the chances of any kind of hacks.
Another important aspect of router protection is to keep them connected only to wires. Though Wi-Fi plays a major role in businesses and in private life, it also exposes routers to many attack possibilities. While Wi-Fi makes things easier, physical connections are always safer than wireless ones. If you can position your computer in such a way that it stays near the router, you can have a great degree of safety.
How to Check if Your Router Has Been Compromised?
If you use an old router and have a weak password, there are chances that it just might be hacked already! But before you start to panic, there are some key steps that you should follow to find out more about routers.
Every router these days has a reset button on it. This small button is generally inaccessible through your fingers. And for good reason, since you do not want your router resetting on its own. To gain access to this switch, you are going to need a pin. Insert the pin to press the button and hold it there for a few seconds. This will reset your router. You can see its effect when the lights flash.
Some other router models require you to long press the on/off button for 10 seconds to reset the router.
Once your router has reset, you will need to reconfigure the security process like login, password etc. If your router had been compromised before, it should be fixed now, but only temporarily. If someone got access to your router before, they can do it again. So, it will be best to call the router company or technician and consult them about the best course of action.
In some cases, the entire router will need to be changed as some malware cannot be removed. However, things might not need to come to that. The less dangerous trojans can be removed relatively easily and for not too much expense.
How to Choose the Right Router?
Prevention is always better than cure and so it is better to have a router which is hard to breach. The best routers for security in the commercial market offer open source software like DD-WRT and Tomato.
Now, it is very important that you get the latest router instead of an older model. Cybersecurity is evolving rapidly and newer threats emerge daily. So, if you want to keep your devices safe, then using the latest router is absolutely necessary. Do not compromise your online security for the sake of a few dollars.
Another very useful thing is to have a VPN installed directly on your router. There are specific routers which come with pre-installed VPNs. They cost higher than basic routers but also provide far more enhanced security. Also, they might cost less overall when you count the router and the VPN service.
Once you get the right router, it is best to customize the login and other security stuff asap. If you are not a tech-savvy person, just get someone you trust to install the router for you. They will configure it correctly and give you the access. Make sure that remote access is denied and only the admin has the ability to change the login.
Also, it is important to keep in mind that for security purposes, it is wise to keep changing your logins regularly. This may not be necessary for private home routers, but it is almost essential for businesses. Changing your login details weekly may seem tedious but it will both protect your router from breaches and notify you in case they ever occur.
What If I Cannot Choose My Own Router?
If you opt for a combined ISP plan, then you might not be able to choose your own router. However, this does not mean that you need to be exposed to online dangers. To make sure your router stays secure along with all the devices connected to it, install a VPN on it. Some VPN companies offer services that run on routers such as Tomato and DD-WRT. If you are not tech savvy, here is a simple step by step guide to help you install a VPN on your router.