The FBI wants internet users to reboot the routers in their homes.
The recommendation came in a public alert from the law enforcement agency that said Russian hackers may be using routers in homes and small businesses to carry out cyberattacks. The FBI called the size and scope of the hack “significant.”
Security experts estimate 500,000 home and small business routers have been infected with the malware, called VPNFilter.
According to the FBI, VPNFilter is capable of collecting personal information, tracking website visits, and even taking control of connected devices.
Anything in your home with an internet connection goes through the router, which makes it an ideal target, according to cybersecurity expert Ibrahim Baggili.
“Your router is a point of failure in your home and you should be very careful about the type of router that you have and updating your router," said Baggili, who is the assistant dean of the University of New Haven’s Tagliatela College of Engineering.
But Baggili believes the hackers are after more than passwords.
“It's not only targeting individuals. It's targeting control systems, in a sense," he said.
Baggili said gaining control of a vast number of routers would allow the group behind VPNFilter to carry out attacks on a larger scale.
Unplugging your router for at least 30 seconds will disrupt the first stage of the malware and help stop it from spreading.
Baggili recommends taking additional security steps including:
- Performing a factory reset on the device by pressing the small reset button
- Changing the network password
- Installing any available updates
- Turning off the remote administration option
Rebooting the router will also help the FBI identify which devices were infected, and allow the agency to track where the stolen data is going.