Skip to Content
Security & Privacy

Check your router – a setting meant to protect your data could expose it to hackers

Your home router can be a gateway for hackers. Just one setting can introduce a critical vulnerability.

If your router is compromised, hackers can harvest data or plant malware. A secure home network can be contaminated by devices you didn’t even know had access to the internet.

Read on to find out what could cause your router to be vulnerable to hackers. You’ll also learn the one surefire way to protect yourself from a virtual home invasion.

How to keep hackers from attacking your router

While routers can be accessed by hackers, there are some security tools you can use to keep your devices safe. The first is to regularly update your router’s firmware.

Update firmware

Hackers are always looking for vulnerabilities, but if you are good about updating firmware you increase your chances of patching up any security holes. Updating your router’s firmware is not as hard as it sounds.

Once you’re in your router’s admin page, check for a section called “Advanced” or “Management” to look for firmware updates, then just download and apply as required.

Use encryption

While you’re in your router’s administration console, make sure to also secure your wireless network by turning on encryption. With encryption, no one can log in to your router without a password.

Change default password

Speaking of passwords, promptly change your password from the default one. Again, you’ll be locking out intruders.

Conceal network name

Hiding your network name also gives you more security. If a guest wants to use your Wi-Fi they’ll have to type in the network’s name and password. That will keep snoops from trying to use your Wi-Fi.

Protect your DNS server

Hackers can take over a router’s DNS settings to direct your traffic to unsafe sites. To protect yourself from this consider changing your DNS server to one with advanced hijacking protection.

Guest networks spell big trouble

Another way router manufacturers try to protect your home network is by allowing you to turn on a guest network for other people and devices. In theory, the two networks are isolated.

It’s that last security layer that can actually allow hackers to get into your routers and access your home network. Keep reading for solutions.

 

Related: Get better Wi-Fi by using these features on your router

 

A guest network could cause serious problems

Researchers in Israel have found that guest networks enable a serious security flaw in your router. It turns out that routers have a core vulnerability that if exploited can’t keep separate networks isolated.

That means that the guest network you enabled for a friend, or any internet-connected devices in your home, can contaminate your main network. The contamination allows hackers to not only attack the guest network but also the main, supposedly more secure network, harvesting its data or planting malware.

Researchers from Ben-Gurion University used internet traffic they created to break down the wall between the home and guest networks. While the researchers couldn’t pull large amounts of data, the vulnerability allows a hacker to search for certain data, such as medical information.

All the routers surveyed by the researchers, regardless of brand or cost, came with the same vulnerability. In addition, software tools didn’t completely protect the router.

So what’s the easiest solution? Shutting off the guest network is the most logical.

If you must use multiple networks, the researchers say that each one should have its own dedicated router.

Without this type of hardware separation, the researchers say there currently is no guarantee of keeping safe multiple networks that use the same router.

Ambassador Program background

Refer friends, earn rewards!

Why not share your new source of digital-lifestyle news, tips and advice with others? When your friends and family subscribe to Kim's free newsletters, you earn points toward awesome rewards!

Get Rewarded