Raise your hands if you’re aware of the FBI’s directive to the public to reboot their routers. Raise your hands if you have actually rebooted yours. If you have no clue as to what we’re talking about or why you should even care – even a little – we’re going to break it down.
The majority of homes have routers set up for internet service, and once installed, we don’t really give them much thought. However, last week, the FBI issued a PSA telling us to reboot our office and home routers. The reason? Suspicious malware from a foreign entity.
The announcement warns that potentially hundreds of thousands of routers and network access storage devices could become infected with malware, leaving them inoperable. This means no internet. Figures from the Department of Justice say that over half a million devices have already been affected worldwide by VPN Filter malware.
This malware is thought to be linked to Russian intelligence hackers. As well as being able to shut down devices, it also has the capability to steal passwords and log-in information. Security specialists have found that devices by Netgear, MikroTik, TP-Link, and Linksys are among those infected.
According to the Department of Justice, the group responsible for this attack is the Sofacy Group, who have a number of aliases. They are not new to web attacks and they have been targeting governments, businesses, and military agencies for years.
The Department of Justice’s investigation has uncovered domain information which will help to identify the sources of the cyber-attacks as well as the victims. However, instead of waiting to find out if you’ve been hit, you should lessen your own risk.
Updating your router will eradicate the infectious malware, and the FBI also advises disabling the remote management settings on your device. Doing so will delete the second and third stages of the malware, which rolls out in three stages.
The first stage acts as an anchor and opens the door for the second and third parts to take hold. Updating your device will provide the best security protections to ensure that you’re not left vulnerable.
So, what steps do you need to take? The quickest thing to do is unplug it, wait a few minutes, and then plug it back in. For those devices that have an app, go the extra mile and install all updates for it. If you’re not quite sure how to do this, check with your device’s manufacturer or internet service provider for instructions.
If you happen to have an older router that’s been around for more than a decade, you might want to replace it altogether with a more current one. Technology is very convenient, but it’s important that you protect yourself to maintain that convenience.