If you haven’t got anything better to do this Memorial Day weekend, consider spending time with your home Internet router. Actually, your government needs you to, to help fend off a major international cyberattack.
According to a blog post from Cisco’s cyberintelligence unit Talos, known devices impacted by the “VPNFilter” malware include manufacturers Linksys, MikroTik, Netgear and TP-Link.
Talos said the malware can allow hackers to steal website credentials as well as render a router unusable, cutting off access to the Internet.
Then on Wednesday, the Federal Bureau of Investigation warned consumers to reboot their Internet routers and install new software patches, to fight this nasty new malware attack called VPNFilter that has so far infected about half a million devices in more than 50 countries, including the United States. VPNFilter can be used to steal data, or to order routers to “self-destruct,” knocking thousands of Internet-connected devices offline.
That’s a big ask on the part of the government. While routers are as commonplace as PCs, hardly anybody knows how they work, or how to update their software. Most of us don’t even protect them with passwords, much less know how to log onto a router to download and install software updates. I can’t remember the last time I did, and I enjoy that kind of thing.
There’s no shortcut here: Look up your router’s brand, model and serial numbers, figure out its default password, log onto its internal control software, and download a patch from the company’s website. Easy enough, right?