Stay safe online: beware of these top 5 most common router attacks

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Whether your router is for home or business use, routers are one of the main attack points for hackers. It doesn’t matter if you have a whole cybersecurity team looking after your organisation’s router or you’re looking after your own home network. Being aware of the most common router attacks means you can take the necessary security steps needed to stay safe online.

In its simplest form, a router receives and sends data across computer networks. It’s what connects all of your devices to your home network, making it a pretty powerful piece of equipment.

If you have noticed any of these suspicious signs of activity then your router may have already been compromised:

  • Key security features have been disabled such as passwords, antivirus software and firewalls
  • Receiving lots of security notifications
  • You’ve lost control of your screen and your device opens things up on its own
  • The internet is performing a lot slower than usual
  • You have network activity not linked to your own internet usage
  • Your accounts have been logged into unknown devices

If you’ve noticed any of these signs and think that your router has been compromised, stick around as we will be going into more detail about how you can fix a hacked router.

The 5 types of router attacks

Hackers will look for all different kinds of ways to gain unauthorised access to your router. It would be impossible to prevent them all but understanding some of the most common methods of attack is better than none.

Here are the top five most common router attacks that you need to be aware of:

  1. Password attacks

If you’re still using the same default password that came with your router, this is one of the most common mistakes and easiest ways for hackers to gain access to your router.

If you just ran to your router to go change your password, you’re amongst the 46% that could have already had their data packets captured due to unsafe passwords. Don’t panic as we’ll go into further detail of how to fix a hacked router.

  1.  Denial of service (DoS)

A DoS attack is a cybercrime in which the attacker floods a server with internet traffic to prevent users from accessing content and services online.

You may be under the threat of a DoS attack if you struggle to access a website, network, emails, or if your internet is extremely slow.

Firewalls and encryptions can help limit access to the network and drop suspected illegal traffic.

  1. Packet mistreating

Very similar to DoS attacks, the router is flooded by cybercriminals and slows down due to its inability to handle the increase in data.

Packet mistreating injects malicious code into the router causing confusion and disruption that slows down your router and can even cause it to completely stop working.

Regular maintenance and testing of your router can prevent such attacks.

  1. Router table poisoning

Every router has a routing table which is the database that keeps track of data requests.

Every routing table is unique and helps to keep your router functioning properly.

Hackers will target your routing table by disrupting its routine and editing the information that it receives and sends.

  1. Hit and run

Hit-and-run attacks involve the cybercriminal hitting the router once and not returning once done.

Also commonly known as ‘test attacks’- which is when the first attempt of the hacker doesn’t work and there are further attempts to attack the router.

Whilst hit-and-runs are just as harmful as any other attack, they’re fortunately a lot easier to spot than other types of router attacks.

The reason hit-and-run attacks are easier to spot is that they can result in a burst of online activity that’s not directly linked to your own internet usage.

How to fix a hacked router

  • Disconnect your router and unplug all cables
  • Factory reset your router (not the same as simply switching it on and off)
  • Login and change your default password
  • Create a brand new name for your Wifi SSID
  • Set up a guest network
  • Update your router firmware

Once you’ve taken these security steps you can go one step further and install antivirus software to keep you safe against future hacking attempts.

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