The FBI warned on Friday that Russian computer hackers had compromised hundreds of thousands of home and office routers and could collect user information or shut down network traffic.
The U.S. law enforcement agency urged the owners of many brands of routers to turn them off and on again, and download updates from the manufacturer to protect themselves.
The warning followed a court order Wednesday that allowed the FBI to seize a website that the hackers planned to use to give instructions to the routers. Though that cut off malicious communications, it still left the routers infected, and Friday’s warning was aimed at cleaning up those machines.
An FBI official told Reuters that the kinds of devices known to be affected by the hack were purchased by users at electronic stores or online. However, the FBI was not ruling out the possibility that routers provided to customers by internet service companies could also be affected, the official added.
What the FBI doesn’t yet know is how VPNFilter is getting on people’s systems.
There are several actions those with home routers can do to stop it. Turning the router on and off temporarily disrupts the malware and erases parts of it, though the router can be reinfected.
The best protection is to make sure the router’s software has been updated and a strong password has been set. Many routers come with default passwords such as “password” or “1234,” which the owners never reset, making them vulnerable to hacking.
“The size and scope of the infrastructure by VPNFilter malware is significant,” the FBI said, adding that it is capable of rendering peoples’ routers “inoperable.”
The FBI urged people to reboot their devices to temporarily disrupt the malware and help identify infected devices.
For the more technically inclined, Talos suggested owners consider disabling remote-management settings, changing passwords and upgrading to the latest firmware.
If you are unsure of how to reset or secure your router please schedule a consult and we will be more than happy to assist you.