Consumer Reports suggests steps to protect your router from attack by foreign actors

By Marilyn Moritz - Reporter

SAN ANTONIO - The FBI is warning people to reset their routers because of Russia-linked malware that shows router security is more important than ever, according to Consumer Reports, which suggests more steps for people to take.

The malware has infected more than a half-million routers in at least 54 countries, and the threat is potentially growing. It’s called VPN-filter, and even security experts cannot be sure who is vulnerable.

“All the information from your computer, your devices, flows right through it. That means your Facebook messages, your banking information, your credit card information -- all goes through your router. So if there’s a breach, that’s really bad,” said Tercius Bufete, Consumer Reports tech editor.

To fix the problem, start by resetting your router. Unplug it, wait 20 seconds and start it up again.

Consumer Reports advises going further by resetting your router’s administrative password, which is the password you use to log in to the router itself, and going into the router’s settings and turning off the remote access feature. Then, Consumer Reports said, update your firmware.

“Unlike a laptop or a smartphone, most older routers don’t notify you if there’s an update available. So, it’s really up to you to check every three or four months, whether there’s an update available on your manufacturer’s website,” Bufete said.

If that’s too much hassle, you can replace your old router with a new one that updates automatically. Routers from Netgear, Eero, Google and Linksys all offer an option to take care of updates for you. A router with the latest updates is less vulnerable to malware.

Consumer Reports said if you want to be completely sure your system is clean and no longer housing nor spreading the malware, the best thing to do is a factory reset on your router. This will revert it to the way it was when it came from the factory. While that will remove both the malware and the settings it was relying on to operate, it will also remove your settings. That means you have to set up your whole system again, including passwords and wireless network.

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