You can’t just sit back and expect your information is safe when you’re online, even at home.
Many people connect their router and go without ever thinking again about the security of the devices that provide that connection to the wider internet.
After a recent hack, the FBI urged people to reset their routers. To protect your online privacy though, you can’t stop there.
A malware attack called VPNFilter earlier this year infected a half million routers in at least 54 countries, making it clear: router security is more important than ever.
“All the information from your computer, your devices, flows right through it,” said Tercius Bufete, Consumer Reports’ technology editor.
“That means your Facebook messages, your banking information, your credit card information. It all goes through your router. So if there’s a breach, that’s really bad.”
To fix the problem, Consumer Reports agrees the first step is to reset your router. Unplug it, wait 20 seconds or so and start it up again.
Then, reset your router’s administrative password. That’s the password you use to log in to the router itself. Make it something strong. Also, go into the router’s settings and turn off the remote access feature.
Then, update your firmware.
“Unlike a laptop or a smartphone, most older routers don’t notify you if there’s an update available,” Bufete said. “So it’s really up to you to check, every three or four months, whether there’s an update available on your manufacturer’s website. ”
If that seems like too much of a hassle, replace your old router with a new one that updates automatically.
Routers from Netgear, Eero, Google and Linksys all offer an option to take care of updates for you. A router with the latest updates is less vulnerable to that destructive malware.
Consumer Reports says that, if you want to be completely sure your system is clean of malware, the best thing is a factory reset. That reverts it back to the way it was when it came from the factory.
While this will be remove both the malware and the settings it was relying on to operate, it will also remove your settings. Which means you have to set-up your whole system again: passwords, wireless network and all.