How a Wireless Router is Hacked or Infected by Malware

Wireless routers make home and office networking easier,but it also creates vulnerabilities on your network.Poor encryption can be hacked ,and many users leave the default administrator password active.This article explains wireless router security and what you can do to protect your private information.

Wireless routers are convenient networking tools for both businesses and individuals. The problem with these routers is that they open your private network to hackers within range of the signal. This could be someone parked outside your business or even a neighboring apartment. Here are some ways that hackers could infect your network or wireless router.

Leaving the Default Admin Password

Each router is shipped with a default administrator password. This lets first-time users configure the router or gives you access after the router is reset. Some routers also ship with remote configuration enabled. Combine these two settings and hackers already know your administrator password, and they can remotely change your settings. With the administrator passwords, hackers can even change your firmware and inject malware.

Using Old Encryption Schemes

WEP is an encryption scheme introduced in 1999. Unfortunately, the FBI cracked WEP and identified the tools and steps that allowed a hacker to gain access to a wireless network. Router manufacturers still allow WEP configurations to support older wireless connections, but it’s a vulnerability on wireless networks. Instead, security experts suggest that users implement WPA2. Older smartphones and tablets don’t support WPA2, so users are forced to downgrade security to support these devices. The catch-22 forces users to choose WEP even if it’s a security hazard.

Using Old Firmware

In 2014, malware named “TheMoon” spread across the Internet and infected thousands of Lynksys routers. Hackers took advantage of older firmware versions that allowed them to run CGI scripts that, in turn, gave them access to local router commands. With access to local commands, hackers could sniff your network communication, gain access to user names and passwords, and give themselves access to your network.

Hackers use this type of access to create “botnets.” Botnets are spread across multiple victims. When the hacker wants to attack a specific server, he sends commands to each botnet where users unknowingly send massive amounts of traffic to a specific server. The attack is called a distributed denial of service or DDoS.

What You Can Do to Protect Your Router

When you first open your router’s packaging, log in to the router and change the broadcast settings. This “hides” your wireless access point while you configure the router. After you finish configuring, change the administrator password. Once you change the password, you can turn on broadcasting. You don’t need to broadcast your SSID, but users are forced to type the SSID to connect to your network so it makes connectivity easier. For home users, it’s safer to turn off broadcasting, which then adds an additional security measure.

Unless you have older devices, always use WPA2 for encryption. After you set WPA2, create a complex password. You need to remember this password for each device, but simple passwords can be “guessed” using a hacking technique called “brute force.” It may surprise you that short, dictionary-word passwords can be brute force hacked within seconds.
Related:How to Set a Secure Password?

You can’t predict future hacks and malware cyber threats, but you can protect from known hacks. Hackers use scripts to check for older vulnerabilities, so update your firmware, always use encryption, and never use the default administrator password when using wireless routers.

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