I’m a law abiding citizen, I pay my taxes and don’t rob banks. So why is the FBI trying to tell me what to do? Why do they care about me? Oddly enough, it turns out they do care about me...and you...when it comes to our home computer networks. Don’t worry, you didn’t do anything wrong. In this case, they’re actually trying to do something helpful for you. The FBI wants you to reboot your router to reduce your risk of your home network being infected by a new virus.
What is a Router?
So what is a router, and do you even have one? In order to connect your home network to the internet, you likely have a few pieces of equipment dedicated to the task. The first might be a DSL or Cable Modem. That’s what connects you to your internet service provider. Usually there is a second box -- the router -- that spreads that Internet connection to all of the other devices on your home network: your computers, phones, smart TVs, doorbells, video cameras...and all of the other connected devices in your home. In order to connect to all of these wireless devices, the router has WiFi built in.
So the short answer is that if you have internet in your home or office, you have a router of one kind or another.
There are probably a dozen top companies that make them and most of them are very similar, having been built with popular chipsets made especially for routers.
Why Does The FBI Want You To Reboot Your Router?
So the bad guys -- let’s just call them hackers -- have figured out a way to create a virus that spreads from router to router, infecting them all along the way. This new Router Virus is called VPNFilter and is very advanced and complicated. It can be used to direct your computer traffic to infected websites or to sniff and steal the data travelling over your internet connection. That potentially means the data from each website you log into could be “sniffed” and stolen by VPNFilter. If you think your account passwords for your bank, dating website or other sites might be easily captured and used by others.
A couple of important notes for you. First, don’t confuse this VPNFilter virus with the term “VPN.” A VPN is a "virtual private network" and it allows you to have more secure communication with online services such as websites, email servers and even your own office network. There are public and private VPNs, and they are generally a good thing. We install them frequently for our clients. The VPNFilter virus is NOT a VPN or even related to a VPN.
Is My Router Vulnerable to VPNFilter?
The other important thing for you to know is that not all routers are affected. In fact, here’s the list of potentially vulnerable routers:
- Linksys E1200
- Linksys E2500
- Linksys WRVS4400N
- Mikrotik RouterOS for Cloud Core Routers: Versions 1016, 1036, and 1072
- Netgear DGN2200
- Netgear R6400
- Netgear R7000
- Netgear R8000
- Netgear WNR1000
- Netgear WNR2000
- QNAP TS251
- QNAP TS439 Pro
- Other QNAP NAS devices running QTS software
- TP-Link R600VPN
What Should You Do?
So the FBI wants you to reboot your router. Should you? If you do, will you be safe?
Not necessarily. According to research from Cisco Talos Intelligence group, just rebooting might not remove the virus because in some cases it has the ability to stay in the system. So more steps are required to make sure your device is safe. Consider following the steps:
- If your router is infected, reset the device to factory defaults. Doing this will wipe its memory and all of its settings.
- Update the firmware to the latest version. What is Firmware? It’s the software that makes the router run, and the router manufacturer usually publishes free updates to their routers on their website. Just search for your router’s model number plus “firmware download” and you’ll be sure to find it. Note: Be sure to ONLY download the software from the manufacturer’s website.
- Once the router is reset and/or updated, change the default password and username if possible.
- If you have “remote management” capability enabled from outside the network, disable it immediately.
- Reinstall and Reconfigure your router onto your network.
- Make sure you periodically check the manufacturer’s website for firmware updates.
But Do This First
Router viruses aren’t very common, and there’s a good chance you’ve never heard of one. The reality is that new digital threats are invented every day. And that is why, in this case, the FBI wants you to reboot your router. By using military strength technology, artificial intelligence, and other advanced techniques, Digital Uppercut is prepared to protect you and your business every day from threats known and unknown. If you’re not yet working with us -- or worse yet, if you are not yet working with a IT security expert -- contact us or call us at 818-913-1335 and let’s start protecting your business today.