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By Miriam Raftery

May 30, 2018 (San Diego) – The FBI has issued a warning of Russian hackers infecting computer routers. The hack is linked to an espionage group loading malware that has already caused major attacks in the Ukraine and has now been found on home and office computer routers in the U.S.

The federal law enforcement agency is asking the public to help thwart a cyberattack by taking the following steps:

Turn your router off, then turn it back on  again.  This will temporarily disrupt the malware and erase parts of it, though it’s still possible that your router could be reinfected.

For better protection, be sure your router has updated software and create a strong password. Some routers have default passwords that have never been changed and are easy to hack, such as 1-2-3-4.

You could also disable remote management settings on your router.

If you need help to protect your router, check with your router manufacturer, since several major router makers have posted instructions for users on how to update their software and protect their systems.

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Any device connected to the Internet has the potential to be hacked and or infected. Homes, businesses, utilities, even government agencies.This problem will no doubt continue for the foreseeable future, because of nefarious people and lack of true prevention.

True prevention

You can turn your stuff off! Beyond that, there are only security updates and active surveillance of critical systems. Even open source software, while better and more secure in general, is no panacea. Regulation can play a role, for example forcing Android phone manufacturers to push out security updates more dependably, but you might have noticed, we are not big on regulation in the United States, these days. Even smart regulation is something the electorate has turned against, so, install your updates.

I think my router is affected by Russian hack but blocks attack

Every once in a while, I'll be denied access to https sites (the "s" stands for "secured"), with a warning that the site is not encrypted, it affects all https sites. I unplug the router, wait ten seconds and plug it back in. Wow, so I might be affected, except my router caught it, and i believe my information was not compromised by this attempted Russian hack of my personal data. One thing to add to your story Miriam, but that I would add a disclaimer to, CNN recommends resetting your router to factory settings, possibly using a pointed object on the device, and i would add to be sure you know the password it will reset to, and then, like you say, updating the software and changing the password if it's still on the router company's factory provided password.


Jonathan - I don't think the "not secured" warning on many sites has anything to do with the router. It's your security system telling you that the website you visited may be insecure. That has happened to all of my computers at times and even on laptops.

Thanks for the tip on resetting routers to factory settings, which may be helpful to our readers.

OpenWrt may be an option (but know what you are doing...)

The most important open source operating system few people know about is called OpenWrt, and this is a long story. Essentially, it is open source firmware for certain supported models of routers. You can replace the default OS that came on your router with OpenWrt, and often it will open up many new features for you in addition to being much more secure! You can find out if your router is supported at their website, which is ...org. It is not necessarily a trivial install, but on most routers it is no more difficult than the normal procedure for updating your router's firmware. (And of course, you will have to totally reconfigure your device to the needed settings for your ISP.) OpenWrt is so good that many router manufacturers have given up making their own firmware and instead are shipping their gear with OpenWrt pre-installed. If you look at router specs on [your favorite retailer here] you will see that many advertise OpenWrt as a feature! And it is not too much more difficult to use if you are only doing basic setup. (There are so many more things it can do, including run software you might want to run *on the router*, that using OpenWrt is definitely an advanced topic beyond your basic setup.)