Powerful tips to protect your router from malware

Malware can infect your router, slow down the internet connection and steal data. Explaination how to protect your Wi-Fi.

You scan your computer for malware once a week, immediately update systems and applications, use strong passwords, and generally practice internet safety... yet your internet is sluggish and some websites refuse access? It might be malware in the router rather than on your machine.

Malware can infect your router, slow down the internet connection and steal data. Explaination how to protect your Wi-Fi.
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Why are routers used?

Cybercriminals primarily target routers for two reasons. First, because all network data passes via these devices; second, a router cannot be scanned with a standard antivirus. So malware that has established itself in the router has a plethora of options to strike and a far lower probability of being caught, let alone eliminated. Let's take a look at what fraudsters may do with an exploited router.

Make a botnet

What Is Botnet

Botnets have evolved into a significant danger to the security of any IT system. As more devices connect to the internet, the potential for new and powerful botnet malware has grown exponentially. Hackers' assaults have developed and scaled to meet new security technologies.

If you've heard of major hacks making headlines, chances are they were fueled by a botnet. Large scale services are difficult to take down or disrupt; this is where botnet comes in to give the large scale computing prowess necessary to tear down the defenses. Let us explain how a botnet is formed and how an individual device interacts with other botnet devices.

A Botnet is a type of Swarm.

The most basic explanation is that it is a network of bots, thus the word botnet. Bots are programs that are built for a certain function in computers. Bots are employed to complete tasks that would otherwise need human intervention. Google Search, for example, employs bots to cruise the internet for webpages, evaluate the content, and index them in the search engine. Checking each webpage would have taken Google workers countless hours. Similarly, chat help providers deploy bots to answer the most popular inquiries.

However, the bots in this debate are malicious; their sole purpose is to infect and attack. A botnet is a collection of malware that has infected many computers. Infected computers join together to launch large-scale assaults.

In the instance of a virus or worm, malware often seeks to infect and assault a single machine first, before infecting other computers on the network. A botnet, on the other hand, is designed to communicate with other infected computers in order to launch a coordinated attack.

How Botnets Attack

How Botnets Attack
How Botnets Attack
One of the most prevalent scenarios is when an infected router joins a botnet, which is a network of devices that sends a large number of requests to a certain website or online service as part of a DDoS assault. The attackers' objective is to overwhelm the targeted service to the point where it slows down and finally fails.

Meanwhile, ordinary customers with hijacked routers have slower internet connections since their routers are busy delivering fraudulent requests and only handle other data when they take a breather.

Botnets are also used for huge spam email campaigns, phishing, money theft, and the distribution of malware to additional computers. ZeuS is a well-known botnet virus that steals financial information via keylogging anytime a victim visits a banking website. The software would collect user credentials and subsequently wire funds from the victim's account. It is believed that ZeuS cost more than $100 million.

Botnets grew to popularity at the height of bitcoin mining. Cryptocurrency is a decentralized digital money that is obtained through the mining process. It entails tackling difficult mathematical problems. The intricacy of the mathematical problems increased with time. Users that mined with a single computer hit a snag; much more computer power was required to get more coins quickly.

The only path ahead was for gadgets to pool their computational power. As a result, cryptojacking became an appropriate method of establishing a network of computer devices for the aim of mining.

Two malware families actively targeted routers

According to our statistics, two malware families actively targeted routers in 2022: Mirai and Mris, with the former leading by a wide margin, accounting for about half of all router assaults.

Mirai

This infamous malware family with the sweet-sounding name (which means "future" in Japanese) has been around since 2016. It is known to infect IP cameras, smart TVs, and other IoT devices, including corporate ones such as wireless controllers and digital advertising displays, in addition to routers. The Mirai botnet was originally designed to carry out large-scale DDoS assaults on Minecraft servers, but it was later used to attack other sites.  The malware's source code has long been released online, and it serves as the foundation for future varieties.

Mēris

Mris does not mean "plague" in Latvian for nothing. It has already infected hundreds of high-performance devices, notably MikroTik routers, and connected them to a network for DDoS assaults. For example, during an assault on a U.S. financial firm in 2021, the network of Mris-infected machines sent 17.2 million queries per second. A few months later, the botnet launched an unprecedented 21.8 million requests per second attack on various Russian banking and IT organizations.

Take information

Some router-infecting malware can cause much more significant harm, such as data theft. You transmit and receive a lot of critical information when you're online: payment information at online stores, passwords on social networks, and business papers via email. All of this data, as well as the rest of your network traffic, must transit via the router. During an assault, data might be intercepted by malware and delivered directly to the hands of hackers.

VPNFilter is one example of data-stealing malware. It obtains the capacity to collect information and manipulate or disable routers by infecting them.

Website spoofing

Malware in the network might secretly redirect you to pages with advertisements or malicious sites rather than the ones you intend to view. You (and your browser) will believe you're visiting a reputable website when, in reality, you're in the hands of cybercriminals.

When you type a website's URL (for example, google.com) into the address bar, your computer or smartphone sends a request to a particular DNS server, which stores all registered IP addresses and their respective URLs. If the router is hacked, it may send requests to a bogus DNS server that replies to "google.com" queries with the IP address of an entirely other site — one that may be a phishing site.

The Switcher Trojan did exactly that: it infiltrated router settings and established a malicious DNS server as the default. Naturally, all information entered on the bogus pages was obtained by the attackers.

How can malware infiltrate routers?

There are two basic ways to install malware in a router: guessing the admin password or exploiting a hardware vulnerability.

Guessing passwords

In the factory settings, all routers of the same model have the same admin password. The admin password, not to be confused with the network security key (the string of characters you input to connect to Wi-Fi), is used to access the router settings menu. If the user unintentionally left the factory settings unaltered, attackers may quickly guess the password and infect the router, especially if they know the router brand.

However, manufacturers have recently begun to take security more seriously by issuing a unique random password to each device, making this strategy less effective. However, predicting the proper mix for older models remains child's play.

Exploiting vulnerabilities

Router vulnerabilities are flaws in your internet gateway via which various dangers might enter your home or corporate network — or perhaps just reside in the router itself, where discovery is less probable. The aforementioned Mris botnet accomplishes just that, taking advantage of unpatched vulnerabilities in MikroTik routers.

Several hundred new vulnerabilities in routers have been uncovered in the last two years alone, according to our study. Router makers issue patches and new firmware versions (basically router operating system upgrades) to address vulnerable points. Unfortunately, many users are unaware that the router software, like other applications, must be updated.

How do you safeguard your network?

Botnets typically infect computers via Trojans or drive-by downloads. A trojan is a type of malware that masquerades as a legitimate program while containing malicious code. Trojans are a common method of delivering malware because they are much more likely to succeed due to unsuspecting users.

When botnet malware infects a system, it remains dormant until its programming activates. Because malware can evade detection systems, it is likely to go unnoticed by the user. However, common signs of malware infection include high resource usage, performance slowdown, and high bandwidth consumption.

If you wish to safeguard your home or corporate router and keep your data safe, follow these steps:

  • Check the manufacturer's website at least once a month for the most recent router firmware upgrades. Install them as soon as they are released. Patches for certain models arrive automatically, but others require human installation. The vendor's website also has information on upgrading the software on your device.
  • Make a lengthy, strong administrator password for your router. Use a password manager to avoid forgetting the combination.
  • Disable remote access to the router admin settings if you are experienced enough or if you discover instructions (for example, on the same vendor's website).
  • Configure Wi-Fi correctly: create a unique password, use a strong wireless encryption standard, and set up guest networks to prevent unscrupulous or negligent visitors and neighbors from spreading malware on your network via infected devices.
  • Use a VPN program to encrypt all outgoing data before transmitting it to the network, keeping it safe from attackers even if the device has been compromised.
  • Never ever download software from a third-party website. Legitimate programs can act as botnet trojans or other types of malware. Directly from the developer's website, download the most recent version of a program.

  • Email is another method by which attackers gain access to a system. Phishing is a fraudulent technique in which the user is asked to click on a malicious link or download a malicious file. When you run the file, the botnet will be quietly installed in your system.
  • Windows Defender is an effective threat detection tool. Maintain it by adding new threat signatures.
  • Anti-virus software is the best line of defense against malware. It will scan new program installations and external drives for malware, as well as email attachments and downloads. Investing in an anti-virus that can deal with various types of malware, both existing and emerging, will go a long way.

Best anti malware router

ESET Internet Security

ESET Internet Security
ESET Internet Security
ESET Internet Security has the most comprehensive set of network security features.

ESET Internet Security is a sophisticated solution that provides multi-layered security for a single Windows, Android, Mac, or Linux device.

In all cases, it will maintain network security for the connected device and provide a secure environment against malware, ransomware, and phishing attacks.

Banking operations are also secure, and you'll appreciate the silent updating system, which eliminates annoying pop-ups while playing games or running a program in full-screen mode.

This tool includes a handy feature that can thoroughly analyze your Internet connection, and thus your router.

It's called ESET Network Inspector, and it can scan your router.

Simply launch ESET and then select Tools Network Inspector. You can now proceed by clicking the Scan your network button.

NETGEAR Orbi 

NETGEAR Orbi
NETGEAR Orbi
NETGEAR Orbi is the best way to protect your entire household.

Next, we have a device that can protect all of your Internet-connected devices.

Netgear Orbi is a mesh network device capable of protecting all traffic data. It is a simple and small device that can be directly connected to your cable modem.

It is compatible with any Internet service provider and supports up to 100 simultaneous connections, so it covers all of your devices.

Netgear Orbi is simple to install. You must install the Orbi app on your phone to gain access to a centralized management board from which you can manage your WiFi settings, monitor data usage, and test speed.

You can see all of the devices that are connected to your network at all times, making suspicious activity easier to detect.

You can activate the NETGEAR Armor security utility for added protection. It is powered by Bitdefender and comes pre-installed on the mesh; you can find it in the Orbi app's Security section.

It safeguards against malware, viruses, ransomware, phishing attacks, and other new threats. It is simple to activate in a matter of minutes, and you can take advantage of a 30-day free trial to test it out.

Vipre Antivirus Plus

Vipre Antivirus Plus
Vipre Antivirus Plus
Vipre Antivirus Plus is quick setup and high detection accuracy

Traditional, slow antivirus software solutions are not always recommended for complete router protection. This is where Vipre comes into play.

This is the antivirus that will protect you from computer viruses, ransomware, identity theft, and any other threats that you may encounter while surfing the Internet or using a router on a daily basis.

And if you are afraid of complicated procedures, rest assured that the preconfigured settings will suffice without any further action on your part.

Vipre is one of the most dependable antivirus programs available, with the fewest false positives. It's also very simple to set up and install, with a simple configuration.

Vire users can take advantage of real-time threat intelligence and award-winning customer support.

Panda Security Essential

Panda Security Essential
Panda Security Essential
Panda Security Essential is the most user-friendly network management app.

This router antivirus secures your network with the Panda GateDefender Integra eSeries, a unified perimeter security device that protects against all types of threats and is cloud-accessible.

It offers complete protection at the Internet gateway, flexible connectivity, and management via a single, simple interface, as well as increased business productivity.

A firewall, antimalware, antispam, web and content filters, VPN, Hotspot, multiple connection technologies to the Internet and corporate network, and an Intrusion Prevention System are among the features.

Not only that, but this antivirus includes web filtering and a built-in VPN to ensure a secure connection.

F-Secure Sense

F-Secure Sense
F-Secure Sense 
F-Secure Sense is the best smart home security solution.

The F-Secure Sense router may be of interest if you want to secure your home network.

This device is made by a well-known antivirus company and will provide you with fast Wi-Fi while also protecting all devices on your network.

This router will automatically block malicious websites and other threats, so you won't have to worry about the security of your network.

F-Secure SENSE includes a dedicated app for network security monitoring, allowing you to keep track of network security on your smartphone.

The dedicated app also serves as a guide, guiding you through the setup process.

It's worth noting that this router is designed to protect smart devices, making it ideal for protecting your TV, console, or smart home appliances.

F-Secure SENSE is constantly updated with new features and security definitions to provide you with top-tier security, ensuring that your network is protected from the most recent online threats.

F-Secure Sense is a fantastic device that is ideal for any home network, especially if you have a lot of smart devices.

With the help of a dedicated smartphone app, this tool can protect and monitor all of your devices. It is simple to configure and optimized for smart devices and appliances.

Avast Free Antivirus

Avast Free Antivirus
Avast Free Antivirus
Avast Free Antivirus provides advanced network port scanning and security.

Avast's Premium Network Security scan, which is included in Avast Free Antivirus, determines whether your router's TCP port is open and accessible from the outside, making it vulnerable to attacks.

The Wi-Fi Inspector scans your network for vulnerabilities as well as potential security issues that could lead to a variety of threats.

It also checks the status of your network, the devices connected to it, and the router settings, assisting you in protecting it from attackers attempting to access or misuse your personal data.

The Wi-Fi inspector reveals, among other things, weak Wi-Fi and router administration passwords, router firmware vulnerabilities, non-encrypted and unsecured wireless networks, DNS hijacking, and open network ports for remote access or Telnet.

It also displays the results of the scan in a single dashboard, where you can see your router, discovered devices, and details such as IP or MAC address, vendor, model, and DNS name, as well as running services and related network ports.

Avast Free Antivirus detects router infections and allows easy Internet access to routers.

Avira Free Security

Avira Free Security
Avira Free Security
Avira Free Security is the best free solution for protecting your personal router.

If you only require basic network security, Avira is an excellent choice. The free software only provides the bare minimum of security against advanced threats and malicious websites.

Avira Fee Security is simple to install and uses few resources, as one would expect from free software.

Avira Free Security also includes VPN protection (with a time limit), tune-up tools, and a strong password generator.

If you want a driver update feature or alerts for vulnerable accounts, you can always upgrade to a more advanced solution.

McAfee Home Network Security

McAfee Home Network Security
McAfee Home Network Security
McAfee Home Network Security - works with a variety of router models

McAfee Home Network Security is a cloud-integrated antivirus for your router that provides comprehensive protection for all devices in your home network.

This secure home platform is built into your router to protect all devices, including tablets, IP cameras, smart door locks, smart lighting systems, and thermostats.

The Internet has increased the opportunity for cybercrime and attacks as hackers break into smart and connected home devices stealing personal information, resulting in an increase in identity thefts as well as threats to your personal security.

Parental controls, device identification, Internet pausing, real-time alerts on potential vulnerabilities, device fingerprinting, and Global Threat Intelligence are among the features.

This is a constantly updated service that protects your router and devices from threats in real time.

It is pre-integrated in Wi-Fi routers and cable modems, including the ARRIS SURFboard, one of the first routers with SHP.

BullGuard Antivirus

BullGuard Antivirus
BullGuard Antivirus
BullGuard Antivirus Detection Using Advanced Machine Learning

This multi-award-winning router antivirus recently acquired Dojo Labs, a smart home security pioneer, resulting in Dojo by BullGuard.

That's an integrated smart home security solution that seamlessly protects the privacy and security of your data, devices, home, and family - with 24/7 threat monitoring.

Dojo by BullGuard is simple to use and configure, portable, and provides powerful security for your router against suspicious network activity.

This smart home security solution includes the Dojo hardware, which is a small black pebble with light rings that illuminate one of three colors (red, green, or yellow) when it detects network activity.

Dojo's smartphone app allows users to interact with the Dojo pebble through an easy-to-use messaging interface that prompts them to allow or block network activity and alerts them to potential threats.

Finally, Dojo's AI and machine learning technology power its cybersecurity engine on a cloud-based platform.

This continuously analyzes device and service patterns to provide long-term privacy protection.

Other advantages to consider are the simple and comprehensive user interface, increased browsing security, advanced machine learning, and Game Booster features.


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