A survey of 2,025 UK residents showed that 82% had never changed their main password for their router and 86% had neglected to update the firmware.
These two factors were highlighted as extremely likely to make them more susceptible to hacking. The study showed that 34% of people hadn’t carried out these tasks because they weren’t sure how to do it and 48% didn’t see why there was any need to.
Based on the findings it is probable that there are millions of people in the UK who are at risk from hackers simply because people aren’t properly securing their routers. This shows both a lack of engagement on the consumer side and lack of available information from the ISP who should be informing customers of the dangers and necessary steps to prevent them.
Avast Software’s Gagan Singh commented on the findings saying: “The reality is that many smart devices can be compromised, including thermostats, streaming boxes, webcams and digital personal assistants all through the router – and consumers and small businesses are among the most vulnerable users. The first step is to ensure the gateway into the home, the router, is secure. Otherwise, it can offer cybercriminals an easy way to get into our homes and access our personal information.”
One thing that the survey does not seem to take into account is the fact that most routers given out by ISPs are generally configured in such a way that they can be remotely updated by the service provider. This means that, while users themselves may not have updated their firmware, this does not mean that the firmware has not actually been updated. Additionally, most routers are sent with randomized admin passwords which are, by definition, quite hard to guess.
Despite this, it is important to take internet security seriously, and if you can’t remember the last time you did anything to strengthen your router’s digital fortress, we have a few simple steps you can take:
Change admin/Wi-Fi password
Even if the password is randomly generated rather than a generic one it is always worth changing it to something more secure. The most secure passwords are ones that are both long and contain unconnected sequences of words, numbers and symbols.
Change the network name
If you have left your Wi-Fi network as the default, then it could give a hacker a better understanding of what make it is which in turn could give them an indication of what the password is.
See if there are any unknown connected devices
You can check via the admin panel to see if there are any unknown devices which are connecting to your Wi-Fi connection. It’s not obvious which ones are yours and which aren’t, so you will need to cross reference the MAC address with the device to see if it’s one you know.
If you’re not updating your software, then your leaving yourself open to be hacked via certain security flaws. It’s good practice to get into the habit of checking regularly to see if there are any new patches to be downloaded