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FBI warning: Why you should reset your router now


Craig Johnson,

If your home or office computer uses a router, there’s a good chance the device may be hit with a cyberattack, according to federal officials. The Federal Bureau of Investigation says “hundreds of thousands” of home and office routers — as well as other networked devices around the world — have been infected with “VPNFilter,” a type of malware that infects routers.

While relatively little information has been released about who is responsible for the nefarious act, the FBI says “foreign cyber actors” are behind it. News site The Daily Beast reported that a Russian hacking group, Fancy Bear, was identified by U.S. authorities as being the culprit.

FBI: Russian malware infects routers — here’s how to protect yourself

“The actors used VPNFilter malware to target small office and home office routers. The malware is able to perform multiple functions, including possible information collection, device exploitation and blocking network traffic,” the FBI says in a public service announcement.

The malware was first spotted by researchers from Cisco’s Talos security team, which reported that in addition to data collection, the malware could be used “to conduct a large-scale destructive attack by using the ‘kill’ command, which would render some or all of the physical devices unusable.”

VPNFilter affects all of the popular consumer-brand routers, such as Linksys, MikroTik, Netgear, TP-Link and others, Cisco said in its advisory.

You may be wondering what consumers with home or office routers can do to protect themselves…

Router malware attack: What you should do

  • The FBI recommends that you power cycle (reboot) the devices. Typically this can be done by pushing the tiny reset button either in the front or back of the router and holding it in for 10 to 30 seconds.
  • It might be a good idea to disable remote management settings as well, the agency says.
  • Secure your network with a strong password or encryption. Here’s how to choose a good password.
  • Finally, you should make sure your networked devices have the latest version of firmware.

With security issues top of mind for many computer users these days, you may be interested in privacy controls. Here’s how to control what Google shares about you.

RELATED: How to reduce, or erase, your digital footprint

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