Is Your Old Router a Security Risk?

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Most of us have a wireless router in our homes. We tend to set them up and then forget about them unless we need to reboot them or give someone access to our wireless network.

I have done service calls at homes and have found that many users don’t know what their router is or even where it is located in their homes.

This is a problem because many people have not updated their routers for years, and some don’t have security measures in place that protect them from hackers and malware.

Should You Update Your Old Router?

If your router is more than a few years old, it’s probably time to replace it. Security measures that were standard a few years ago are no longer adequate. Router security features have advanced in recent years, and many older routers don’t offer those updated features.

Criminals now have more tools than ever. There are databases online that are easily accessible to anyone. These databases hold lists of known vulnerabilities for specific routers. You just need to know the router’s make and model. This makes it easier for hackers to break in.

Many users never changed the username and password for the router during the initial setup, so anyone who knows that information, which is easy to find online, can gain access.

We now live in the age of “the internet of things,” and we have all kinds of devices connected to our home networks: computers, tablets, phones, refrigerators, furnaces, home security systems, baby monitors, webcams and even light bulbs. All of these are connected to your router. So even if you take steps to secure each device, if your router is vulnerable so is everything connected to it.

Signs It’s Time To Replace Your Router

So how do you know if it is time to replace your router? There are a few key signals you need to know.

It Is No Longer Updating

The router can no longer receive firmware updates. Updating the firmware can add new features to the router.

The firmware also includes security patches and updates. Some routers are set to download and install the most current firmware automatically. On others, it needs to be done manually.


Check your router and be sure it is up to date. If the manufacturer is no longer releasing updates, it’s time to replace the router. You can visit the manufacturer’s website and find your router make and model to see if any new firmware is available. Many manufacturers have “end of life” lists that show the date that the router is no longer supported.

It Is Slow

Another sign your router may need to be updated is poor performance. Slowness and disconnects are signs there is a problem with the router. Sometimes it’s hard to determine if the issue is your internet connection or the router. See my previous column on how to know if you are getting the internet speed you are paying for.

It Is Loud

The router feels hot or the fans are noisy. This can be a sign of an aging router. All hardware goes bad. If you notice this with your router, check the warranty status. If it’s still under warranty, contact the manufacturer. If it’s out of warranty, replace it. Overheating and faulty fans can be a fire hazard.

It Is More Than 5 Years Old

If your router is more than five years old, replace it. Many new security features have been released in that time, and installing a new router will help protect your home network and all connected devices.

Buying a New Router

You don’t have to spend a lot of money on a new router. Shop around and read some reviews before buying. Be sure that the router you are purchasing is compatible with your internet service provider (ISP). Most have a list of supported routers on their websites. If you don’t see a list, call your ISP to get the information.

Talk to a computer tech you know and do some research online. Most of the time the people who work at the local big box stores are not the best folks to ask for a recommendation. Most are not trained in network security.

When you get your new router home, be sure to secure it when setting it up. The first thing you want to do is change the default login and password and then check for any updates.

Final Thought

Taking the time to secure your network fully is important for your safety. Choose a complex, strong password and change it regularly. See my previous column here for more tips on how to secure your wireless router.

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