FBI warning: Why you should reboot your router now

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FBI warning: Why you should reboot your router now
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If your home or office computer uses a router, there’s a good chance the device may be hit with a cyberattack, according to federal officials. The Federal Bureau of Investigation says “hundreds of thousands” of home and office routers — as well as other networked devices around the world — have been infected with “VPNFilter,” a type of malware that infects routers.

While relatively little information has been released about who is responsible for the nefarious act, the FBI says “foreign cyber actors” are behind it. News site The Daily Beast reported that a Russian hacking group, Fancy Bear, was identified by U.S. authorities as being the culprit.

FBI: Russian malware infects routers — here’s how to protect yourself

“The actors used VPNFilter malware to target small office and home office routers. The malware is able to perform multiple functions, including possible information collection, device exploitation and blocking network traffic,” the FBI says in a public service announcement.

The malware was first spotted by researchers from Cisco’s Talos security team, which reported that in addition to data collection, the malware could be used “to conduct a large-scale destructive attack by using the ‘kill’ command, which would render some or all of the physical devices unusable.”

VPNFilter affects all of the popular consumer-brand routers, such as Linksys, MikroTik, Netgear, TP-Link and others, Cisco said in its advisory.

You may be wondering what consumers with home or office routers can do to protect themselves…

Router malware attack: What you should do

  • The FBI recommends that you power cycle (reboot) the devices.
  • It’s best that you disable remote management settings as well, the agency says.
  • Secure your network with a strong password or encryption. Here’s how to choose a good password.
  • Finally, you should make sure your networked devices have the latest version of firmware.

Linksys recently released a statement on the malware issue, saying “We advise customers that if they have older routers or routers that do not support automatic updates (or have disabled automatic updates) that they update the latest firmware from our website www.linksys.com on the individual product pages.”

The company also encouraged its customers to change the administration password periodically. “Newer Linksys routers include automatic software downloads and change default passwords during set up so newer Linksys mesh and EA/WRT routers are not known to be affected,” the company said.

Netgear also released a statement saying that “according to our understanding of Cisco Talos’s investigation, this malware most likely targets existing vulnerabilities for which we have already released firmware fixes.”

Nonetheless, Netgear released the following list of devices they believe might be vulnerable:

  • DG834

  • DGN1000

  • DGN2200

  • DGN3500

  • FVS318N

  • MBRN3000

  • R6400

  • R7000

  • R8000

  • UTM50

  • WNDR3700

  • WNDR4000

  • WNDR4300

  • WNDR4300-TN

  • WNR1000

  • WNR2000

  • WNR2200

  • WNR4000

Netgear said that consumers should make sure they have the latest firmware update at routerlogin.net and that they have changed their default admin password. Here’s how to do it.

With security issues top of mind for many computer users these days, you may be interested in privacy controls. Here’s how to control what Google shares about you.

RELATED: How to reduce, or erase, your digital footprint

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Craig Johnson is a conscious money-saver who still reads paperback books and listens to vinyl. He likes to write about how technology is making things easier and more affordable — but also sometimes more dangerous — for the modern consumer.  You can reach Craig at craig@clark.com
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