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Security & privacy

Do this with your router before selling it or throwing it away

You know to wipe your devices before tossing them or giving them away. Your phone and computer contain lots of data that can be used against you. But what if you don’t have a chance to reset them? Here’s how to remotely wipe the data from your phone and computer.

Your router is not just a dumb box that connects you to a network. It stores information to manage the network, and you should take the same precaution as you would with all your connected devices.

Don’t make this mistake

Researchers at ESET purchased a bunch of used enterprise routers and were surprised to find that half of them were still intact. That is, nobody wiped the devices before putting them up for sale. 

We’re shocked that any business wouldn’t take such an essential precaution with any discarded device. 

RELATED: 5 secrets only cybersecurity pros and hackers know

What they found

The data found on the routers could be used to identify the last owners and their network configurations. 

The routers also contained a mix of the following:

  • Customer data.
  • Data that allowed third-party connections to the network.
  • Router-to-router authentication keys.
  • Credentials for connecting to other networks as a trusted party.
  • Connection details for specific applications.
  • VPN credentials.
  • Admin credentials.

The risks

Researchers named their paper “How I could’ve stolen your corporate secrets for $100.” Fitting when considering the implications here. 

With the right information, a hacker could gain full access to your company network like a high-level employee would. From there, they can launch a cyberattack, steal your information and hold your company for ransom. 

A crook could even turn a quick buck by purchasing your router for a couple hundred dollars and then selling the extracted data on the Dark Web. The average price of access credentials to corporate networks is $2,800. Not a bad profit. 

The bottom line: Reset your router as you would with any of your devices before letting it out into the world. 

How to reset your router

NOTE: The proper process for resetting your router could vary, but the instructions below will generally work for most. Your model’s instructions should be found in its manual. Don’t have your router’s manual? No worries. Tap or click here for thousands of free manuals available online.

  • Make sure your router is plugged in and turned on.
  • Find the reset button (usually inside a tiny hole on the back).
  • Insert a paperclip into the hole to hold down the button for at least 15 seconds.
  • Release the button, and wait for your router to power back on.

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