Wi-Fi Woes: Secure your Routers!

Ever since I was one of the targets exploited in a government hack a couple of years ago–I literally got images of my fingerprints stolen off a government server… yeah!–I’ve become increasingly aware of taking steps necessary to protect myself. One of the things I’ve done is to choose the best technical equipment money can buy, and that includes both computers and IoT (Internet of Things) devices.

Sadly, no matter how diligent or even paranoid you are about maintaining your security over the Internet, other individuals and companies can still subvert your efforts. Even if it’s through ignorance and not necessarily purposefully malicious, “you can’t fix stupid.” The next best thing you can do is educate yourself about your security, and that includes not just having anti-virus and other tools to protect you from malware on your computers, but also to utilize secure IT devices. It also means educating yourself about security issues. I like to follow the blog of Nathan House, security expert and CEO of StationX. While it has more of a slant toward professionals he also offers a lot of great insights for individuals and families.

Did you know the average commercial wi-fi router is the gateway into your home these days for hackers, cyber-criminals, and other malicious types who want to peek into your personal data? And it would seem a recent study by the American Consumer Institute revealed 5 out of every 6 routers are inadequately protected against security flaws and known exploits! That’s a staggering figure, and it should become a wake-up call for each and every one of us with Internet traffic piping into and out of our homes, which is the vast majority of us in America today.

What can I Do?

  1. Ascertain the date of manufacture, make, and model of your router.
  2. Navigate to the manufacturer’s website–hopefully they have one, and if not then that’s a bad sign.
  3. Look up the model of your router and see when was the last firmware update offered. If it’s been more than 6 months ago, contact the manufacturer to find out why.
  4. If necessary, and you get nowhere with the manufacturer, I highly suggest doing research to find a better router that is built and patched with security in mind.
  5. Download the free anti-virus product by Avast. This has utility in it called Wi-Fi inspector that’s kept up to date and can scan your home networking devices for known exploits and advise remedies.
  6. Finally, follow the national vulnerability database maintained at https://nvd.nist.gov. This is a government-maintained site that tracks the latest vulnerabilities and other data of interest to both companies and private consumers.

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