Your router sits between your devices and the internet, making it an attractive target for hackers. However, we usually don’t pay too much attention to it unless something is wrong. Routers can be attacked and infected with malware, putting your entire network at risk. Here’s how to tell if your router has viruses and tips for starting over with a clean slate.
Signs That Your Router Is Infected With Malware
If you suspect that something is wrong with your router, there are some common tell-tale signs that point to a possible hacking or malware attack. Some warning signs to check include:
- The computer is running slower than usual.
- Internet searches redirected to strange sites.
- Ransom demand messages demanding a sum of money in exchange for unlocking your data.
- Passwords for online accounts do not work.
- Some funds are missing from your online bank account.
- Computer programs crash randomly.
- New toolbar names that you do not recognize appear in your web browser.
- Several pop-up windows containing fake anti-virus messages appear on your screen.
- New software unexpectedly installed on your computer.
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How do I avoid my wifi being hacked again?
By taking the following steps, you can significantly reduce the chances that someone will gain access to your home network again.
- Change the wifi password regularly – follow good password tips and regularly change the password used to access your wireless network. See some great tips here.
- Change Administrator Password – New wireless routers come with the default username and password to use during setup. As soon as you get a new connection to the router and change the default username and password.
- Do not broadcast the details of your routers – by default, the name of the wireless network (the SSID) often broadcasts the type of router you are using or the Internet service provider you are using. Change the name of the wireless network as soon as you configure it.
- Disable Wi-Fi Protected Setup (WPS) – WPS allows you to connect a device by simply pressing a button or entering a short PIN code. However, this turned out to be an insecure and straightforward feature for a hacker to target and access. If possible, disable this feature.
- Regularly Check Connected Devices – As described above, you can log into your router’s control panel and check which devices are connected to your network. Check back every now and then and examine the ones you don’t recognize.
- Update your firmware – firmware is the software that runs your router. As security vulnerabilities are detected, updates become available to correct the vulnerabilities and make your router more secure. Update the router’s firmware regularly and enable automatic update if available. A guide to popular routers can be found here.
- Set up a guest network – If your router allows you to set up a separate wifi network for guests, then do so. This sets up a separate wifi network that is not connected to the network all of your devices are connected to and limits the chances that someone will use it to access your devices.
What To Do If Your Router is Hacked
If your router has been hacked and you are concerned that your computer is now infected with malware, here are the steps to minimize the damage.
1. Back up your files and data
Before attempting to repair your computer and remove any malware, back up your files and data to an external hard drive or cloud service. It’s important to do this regularly if your computer crashes, and you can automate backing up your files to the cloud or to an external device. While your data is often saved securely in a cloud service, some is more secure than others. Contact your cloud service if you need assistance, as they may offer technical advice and may even be able to recover lost files. Often, large companies outsource their data backups to third-party experts with the most secure online servers.
2. Shut down your computer and restart it in Safe Mode
If you suspect that your router has been hacked when you receive a fake anti-virus message, shut down your computer and restart it in safe mode. In Safe Mode, uninstall any previous software that looks suspicious. If you are using Windows 10 or later, run Windows Defender offline to scan for malware when Windows is not running, which makes it easier to find malware because some malware can be avoided. detected when Windows is running. Restart your computer in normal mode and see if the bogus antivirus messages are gone. Run an antivirus scan for any left behind malware and remove any remaining threats.
3. Remove mysterious toolbars from browser.
Browser toolbars are easy to install, and luckily removing most of them is just as easy. Remove any browser toolbars that you are not using, especially the most recent toolbars. Some browsers will allow you to restore settings to the default version. You can always carefully add browser toolbars later after checking whether the toolbar in question exposes your computer to cybersecurity threats. Make sure all free software you install is fully patched and read the fine print. Several free software programs indicate that they install toolbars.
4. Change passwords to hacked accounts and use complex passwords.
If you receive an email that appears to be from a company you have an online account with, look carefully before clicking on a link. Sometimes hackers hide emails to make it look like they are from a company they know you are dealing with to trick you into clicking links that redirect you to log into your account and steal your. password. If you have noticed that when you try to log into one of your accounts several times and your password does not work, it is most likely due to your router being hacked. Immediately request a password reset and create a strong password, or go the extra mile and use a two-factor authentication service. In the future, do not click on links in emails. If you want to log into an account online, do so from the direct company home page. If you are using the same password for multiple accounts, change them immediately and consider using a secure password manager.
5. Secure your wireless router and install a quality antivirus program to minimize the risk of future hacker attacks.
Securing your wireless router is your first line of defense in protecting your computer online. Make sure you are using WPA2 encryption rather than WEP security, which is easy for cyber criminals to hack. Create a strong wireless network name (SSID) and password and make sure your router’s internal firewall is enabled. If you want to take extra precautions, you can buy a personal VPN (virtual private network) for your home, as many organizations use it.
RAM Antivirus is necessary for protecting your computer is essential to maintain its performance and longevity. Think of it as a preventative practice similar to an annual check-up at your doctor’s office. Just as your doctor will tell you if you need treatment, RAM Malware Removal software will alert you and help you if you need to remove malware that can damage your equipment.
This article covers the answers to some of your frequently asked questions: