Check your home Wi-Fi router right now! If you own one particular brand your data may be at serious risk. Even scarier is the fact that you may only have a few tools at your disposal to protect yourself.
Troy Mursch, Bad Packets chief research officer, found more than 25,000 Linksys home Wi-Fi routers are leaking sensitive information about themselves and the devices on their networks to anyone who knows what to look for.
This isn't the first time Linksys has had major security problems.
As many as three-dozen Linksys models are affected by the massive data leak.
Linksys routers can be hijacked
The affected Linksys routers are leaking full records of every device ever connected to them, which includes unique identifiers, names, operating systems, MAC addresses, WAN settings, firewall status and if the router's default password has ever been changed.
Click here to see if your model is affected.
Can your router be remotely hijacked or even hacked at all? Unfortunately, the answer is maybe.
If your router is using factory-defaults to secure the device and a hacker finds that information, it can be hijacked remotely and everything you do online is visible to the intruder.
A person doesn't have to be a master hacker to find router leaks and share the information. A person just needs to go to Linksys public IP address, provided as part of the company's Smart Wi-Fi functions. The IP address is meant for legitimate users to access their routers remotely.
A few clicks inside the browser's developer console will show a hacker whether a router is leaking information. If it is, it will share it with the hacker accessing it without requiring any authentication.
Mursch found the router leaks are taking place across North America, Europe, South America and Asia. Vulnerable routers were discovered in 146 countries.
Linksys responded to the Bad Packets information by saying the flaw was fixed in 2014. The company added that it tested the router models "flagged by Bad Packets using the latest publicly available firmware (with default settings) and have not been able to reproduce" the leak.
"We believe that the examples provided by Bad Packets are routers that are either using older versions of firmware or have manually disabled their firewalls," according to a statement from Linksys.
For his part, Mursch is standing by his report.
What to do if your Linksys router is affected
The first thing, of course, is to find out if your Linksys router is on the list of those affected by the leak.
Linksys said most of its routers have updates automatically installed, meaning if the company releases a fix the routers will automatically apply it.
"Customers are highly encouraged to update their routers to the latest available firmware and check their router security settings to ensure the firewall is enabled," Linksys further advises.
Mursch claims neither of those options will work and Linksys' remote-access feature cannot be disabled.
He does say there are two methods that can provide protection. One is to log onto your router to make sure automatic updates are enabled. He adds, however, that some devices may not have that option.
Under the second method, users should change their default administrative passwords and settings to thwart hackers. In fact, regardless of what brand of router you are using, it's always a good idea to assess your device's security measures.
If you’re still concerned about the leak, replace the router or install third-party firmware such as OpenWrt.
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