Router malware 'more capable of damage' than realized. The fix is also more complicated.
(KUTV) — For absolutely every place with WiFi, there is a WiFi router transmitting its signal. It's likely you have one in your home.
These routers are where hackers are now attacking, installing malware that can allow crooks to see what you're doing on the internet and maybe capturing your passwords.
The FBI has said the fix is simple: unplug your router for about 30 seconds and then plug it back in. But now, computer experts say that may not be enough to keep the bad guys out.
Consumer Reports Tech Editor Tercius Bufete says router security is now more important than ever.
“All the information from your computer, your devices, flows right through it,” he said. “That means your Facebook messages, your banking information, your credit card information, all goes thru your router. If there’s a breach, that’s really bad.”
It's not enough to simply unplug your router, Bufete says. It’s also smart to reset your router’s administrative password — that's the password you use to log in to the router itself.
Then, go into the router’s settings and turn off the remote access feature, he suggests.
Perhaps most importantly, Bufete says consumers should check with the manufacturer of their router to see if there are any firmware updates available.
“Unlike a laptop or a smartphone, most older routers don’t notify you if there’s an update available,” he said. “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 the prospect of doing all that tech stuff boggles your mind, you might want to consider buying a new router — one that updates automatically.
Consumer Reports says newer 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 malware.
As the story is evolving, "it’s becoming clearer every day that this malware is more pervasive and more capable of damage than anyone first realized," Consumer Reports says.
If you want to be completely sure your system is clean and no longer housing nor spreading the malware, the best thing to do is a factory reset on your router, Consumer Reports say. Be warned: doing so blows out everything on the router, which means you would have to set up your whole system again.
The router malware has infected more than half a million routers in at least 54 countries, and the threat is potentially growing.