NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – Home routers that provide internet and Wi-Fi access have become an everyday convenience, and some would say necessity.
But the FBI and others warn they can also be an entry-point for hackers.
If your router gets infected with spyware, it can put your whole home network at risk, including laptops, televisions and anything else that uses Wi-Fi.
Experts say too often people are not taking critical steps to secure their routers, like changing the default password to something that’s difficult to guess.
Even if you have a router with a strong password from your cable or phone company, it may be vulnerable. The software the company uses to connect to your router and troubleshoot problems remotely can also be a backdoor for hackers.
If you have a home office, you should be especially careful. In May, the FBI issued a warning to all owners of small and home office routers about an attack targeting those devices. The group carrying out the attack is believed to have ties to a Russian intelligence agency – the same one that U.S. intelligence officials say attacked the Democratic National Committee in 2016.
Fortunately, the fix was easy: turn the router off and then on again.
So what can you do to keep your router secure?
Use a web-based tool that can tell you if your router is infected. Place your router as close to the middle of your home as you can, so its signal can’t easily be intercepted from outside.
Register your router with the manufacturer, request alerts for firmware update and install those updates when available.
Finally, given the pace technology changes, it’s also smart to replace your routers every three to five years, because manufacturers often stop providing security updates for older devices. Newer routers usually have better security.
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