Wondering how to say if someone hacked your router? We’ll discuss some popular “router hacked” signs and how to patch a hacked router. But first, let’s go into what a router is and the role it plays in your online environment.
Routers are like the route signs of the internet – directing traffic along the right road. Like path signs for street crossings, routers are positioned in between where two or more portions of the internet converge. So, when you’re connected to “Wi-Fi” or “the internet”, it’s really your modem that you’re connecting to:
Any single thing every computer in your home does “on the internet” is transmitted via your router. So, if a hacker has hold of your router, they will potentially see and/or control anything you do on the internet.Your router is essential to your home network’s ability to function efficiently and manage confidential data. The last thing you’d want is for it to get compromised! That’s why it’s so important to know how to say whether someone compromised your router and how to patch a hacked router.
How Do Routers Get Hacked?
Before we get into the details of hacked router signs, let’s discuss how routers get hacked in the first place. Your router can get compromised any variety of ways. Two of the most famous are the following:
You’ve Enabled Remote Management
There is something called remote control. If you allow remote control, this ensures you can reach your router from a remote location by connecting over the internet. If remote management is allowed, this may be an opportunity for a hacker to take control of your router (more on this later) (more on this later).
There Are Vulnerabilities On Your Network
Vulnerabilities, such as using poor passwords and using faulty features in the router’s firmware can be another way for a hacker to take control of the router.
In the Avast Vulnerability Environment 2019 Predictions Survey, Avast analysis reveals that in 2018, “60 percent of users around the world have never updated their router’s firmware, leaving them potentially vulnerable to fairly simple attacks that exploit firmware vulnerabilities.” This goes to show that the majority of people don’t know how to secure their routers, or they don’t understand would might happen if they don’t.
What Could Happen If Your Router Gets Hacked
When a hacker gains hold of your router, things can get nasty very quickly…
- Hackers Will Steal The Data — If a hacker is in, they pretty much have free reign to steal what data they want. This could be passwords, emails, social media posts and some other form of personal details you placed on the internet.
- You May Be the Victim of DNS Hijacking — Hackers may also execute something called DNS hijacking, which is a DNS attack that involves rerouting visitors to websites they weren’t planning to go to. A typical position a hacker can reroute a customer to is a phishing website that is dressed as a website they were planning to go. If a hacker breaks into your router, they could override your DNS settings and send you anywhere they want.
- You Can Find Yourself on the Receiving End of Malware & DDoS Attacks — Hackers may insert malicious code fragments (malware), which may exploit your whole home network, or use your router in a DDoS attack (distributed denial of service) (distributed denial of service). This is where a hacker uses a network of compromised devices to flood their target (typically another network or website), which blocks people from being able to access it.
Hacked routers are no joke. For eg, the FBI released an alert in 2018 about something called VPNFilter malware. The release says that international cyber actors “used VPNFilter malware to target small office and home office routers. The malware is able to execute several tasks, including potential information gathering, system manipulation, and disrupting network traffic.” They FBI also speculates that the malware targeted routers that were produced by several manufacturers and “compromised hundreds of thousands of home and office routers” as a result.
How to Tell If Someone Hacked Your Router
With all this talk about how bad a compromised router is, I’m sure you’re curious what signs to watch out for to know if your router is hacked. Here are a few “hacked router signs” to watch out for:
Your Login Credentials Don’t Fit
Passwords unexpectedly not working is never a positive thing. This is no different when it comes to the router. If your Wi-Fi password or login to your router’s admin interface aren’t working, this may be an indication that a hacker has broken into your router and changed it to shut you out.
You Notice Unknown IP Addresses on Your Network
If you’re logging into your router’s interface, you can periodically search the list of IP addresses utilizing your network. If you see an unfamiliar address (especially a foreign one), this would most likely mean that a hacker has accessed your router. So, for our next method of how to say whether your router gets compromised, look for any unknown IP addresses.
You’re Redirected to Unintended or Unknown Websites
Moving back to DNS hijacking and hackers rerouting you to unsafe websites we were worried about a minute ago… this is another sign of a compromised router. If you’re attempting to access your daily round of websites and you keep being diverted to websites you weren’t planning to visit, then this might be a sign of a compromised router using DNS hijacking.
You Receive Ransomware Messages
Okay, this is the last thing on our list of how to tell if someone hacked your router. Ransomware is a form of malicious software hackers use to withhold access to your data in return for a ransom charge. If a hacker has broken into your firewall, they can very quickly withhold access to your network.
But what do you do if you get an email or some other form of contact from a hacker requesting payment in return for access to your network? the FBI advises not paying the ransom demand and says to call your closest FBI field office or report it at tips.fbi.gov.
How to Fix a Hacked Router in Six Easy Steps
If you’ve seen the signs of a compromised router, so you certainly want to act quickly to get it patched. Here are the steps you can take if you suspect your router is compromised.
Step 1 — Disconnect from The Internet
By disconnecting the router from the internet, the hacker loses their right to reach the router because there’s no longer a link.
Step 2 — Reset Your Router
By doing a factory reset, your router can reset your settings and passwords. This helps you to get a blank slate with the router. There should be a physical reset button directly on the router to help you achieve this mission.
Step 3 — Change Your Passwords
Once your router is reset, log in to your router admin interface and reset the password. Please note that when you reset your router, your login credentials will have reverted to the default, factory-set username and password. There should be a sticker on your router that lists the default login credentials for reference. Also, to log in to your router’s admin tab, you must know your router’s IP address.
When you reset your password, make sure to choose a special, lengthy and complicated password that’s also quickly recall, such as a term like MyFavoriteEatery78910. You should restore the password for your router admin interface and your home Wi-Fi. By doing these first three moves, you’ll have hopefully locked the hacker out of your network.
Need support generating a safe password? You should verify the strength of any passwords you build using a tool like security.org’s password checker. Using that method to search the passphrase “Mustard4Saltydogs,” I got the following result:
Step 4 — Contact Law Enforcement (If Necessary)
This goes back to the ransomware case. Ransomware is a serious offense and should be treated as such. If you can break in and change your passwords after a reset or not, you can report the crime. In addition to disclosing the crime, the FBI also advises rebooting your firewall, resetting the password and the next few moves on the list…
Step 5 — Update Your Firmware
Routers don’t often upgrade on their own, that’s why it’s necessary to update the firmware manually. Firmware is software that manages some elements of your router’s hardware. Updates are critical as they can fix bugs, and may be a prime opportunity for a hacker trying to break back into your router.
Step 6 — Turn Off Remote Management
Remote administration helps you to reach the network from a remote location. It’s very useful when you’re out or traveling, but this feature often makes it possible for hackers to access your network and computers from practically anywhere.
If this is turned on and a hacker has access to it, it means they can take possession of your machine and copy, upload, or do pretty much whatever they want. Switch it off!
Wrapping Up on Hacked Router Signs & Solutions
We hope we’ve addressed the question “how to tell if someone hacked your router? ” Our hope is that you won’t ever have to experience a hacked router situation again as it can be a pain to work through. If you do, however, we hope these tips help you navigate through and delete the hacker from your network.
If you go on with a more security-oriented attitude, there a few more tips you can introduce to keep a hacker from obtaining unwanted access in the future:
- Regularly update your router admin and Wi-Fi keys.
- Consistently upgrade your firmware.
- Track IP addresses specified on your admin tab.
- Using a “guest network” for your home guests to restrict access to your home network.
- Don’t use WPS (Wi-Fi Secure Setup) (Wi-Fi Protected Setup). The term “protected” is loosely used here, since this functionality is famously unreliable. It helps you to press a button on your router and immediately access the network. Any mechanism that removes the need for a password (if not more protection) is generally not a good idea for security.
I hope this article helps you understand the signs your router is compromised, how to patch a hacked router, and what you can do to keep hackers away from it going forward!