Many people forget where they positioned their router-- that is until the internet stops working.
Then starts the fix-all sequence: turn off, turn on, and hope for the best. Yet, there’s a hidden risk to such a lack of attention.
You could be subjecting your data, your security, your banks accounts even, to a significant threat - as you need to regularly update your router firmware to keep its security features up-to-date.
Risks of Outdated Router Firmware
All internet activity passes through your router, so any security flaw puts all of your data at risk.
Even renowned products from well-known brands such as Apple, Amazon, and Google are vulnerable to data hacks. If you fail to update your router, consider yourself a target for hackers.
Typically, attackers will search for ways to access sensitive information such as:
- Credit card details
- Email content
The truth is, whatever flows through your network could fall prey to any well-versed hacker.
Worryingly, it’s not only your data that’s at risk. Cybercriminals can take over hardware to carry out illicit activity. Illegal downloads and website attacks are two of the most common.
In 2016, malware known as Remaiten spread through a network of Linux-based routers, guessing standard login credentials to access random IP addresses. Once the Remaiten Worm had taken hold, it took control of the routers to carry out DDoS (distributed denial of service) attacks on global commercial websites.
How to Update Your Firmware
Your router manufacturer should roll out generic software updates frequently to counter all threats. Upgrades can number in the hundreds in a given year - showing just how vulnerable your everyday router can be.
But here’s the tickler.
You have to find, download, then install the update yourself. Otherwise, you remain at risk, so it’s likely your firmware is already out-of-date. Unfortunately, there’s no single process to perform an update. You need to check the brand of your router and follow the instructions.
You should check for an update every 3 months. Better still, look online in case your router manufacturer offers email security notices in the event of a security vulnerability. If you register your router when you install it, you should be able to opt-in to notifications that alert you to updates.
Always choose ‘Yes’ - it could protect you from a hack in the years to come.
Routers That Update Automatically
If you’d rather set-and-forget, there are routers on the market that will update themselves on your behalf. The Linksys AC2600 is a popular model with an auto-update feature while Netgear offers a range of security-conscious devices as well.
Just be sure to choose a router that auto-updates; as Eero CEO and co-founder Nick Weaver points out, “If you have static software running a device, chances are - the device will be insecure.”
Importance of a Secure Wifi Router
If the thought of a compromised router is a concern today, flash-forward to a home that’s jam-packed with internet-enabled devices.
Connected hardware like the Amazon Alexa harvest volumes of personal data making router security an imperative in the modern home. Technology consultants Gartner predict that we will see 20+ billion internet-connected devices by 2020 - up from just 8 billion last year.
As the threats mount, router manufacturers are partnering with security operators to guarantee malware protection across devices, and McAfee and Bitdefender have become the popular choice - now that the dangers are known.
Don’t leave your router firmware open to hackers. Keep its security software up-to-date so you can browse without risk.