In light of the current geopolitical strife surrounding Syria, authorities in both the US and the UK have alerted their citizens that Russian hackers are on a campaign to take over routers and network devices in their respective countries. The FBI, Department of Homeland Security, and the UK National Cyber Security Centre have issued a joint alert after their investigation that network devices are indeed being hacked in order to spy and steal IP.
If you have a small business and or you’re concerned about an attack affecting your home, you can perform the following procedures in order to tighten security around your router. This will not totally eliminate the possibility of a hack but at least your network will be able to resist them.
1. Switch to WPA2 for your router’s wireless encryption.
WEP, the old encryption standard, fall to hackers within seconds. If you’re still not using WPA2, you need to start using it immediately. In case you have an old router, check if it has WPA2 in its settings and ask its manufacturer if there is a firmware upgrade that will make WPA2 available on your unit.
2. Make sure your firewall is working.
Firewalls can help stealth your networks through a certain configuration. When you do so, your network will not be easily seen by hackers. Make sure you enable your router’s firewall and check for this mode.
3. Get a VPN service for your router
A virtual private network service will essentially cloak your IP so it looks like you’re browsing from another country. VPN services also encrypt your data traffic so it’s a great idea to subscribe to one in order to keep the comings and goings in and out of your router private. This layer of protection will discourage a hacker.
4. Enable admin access for wired devices.
A router’s interface can be accessed wirelessly. You can disable this access by looking for “admin via wireless” feature and switching it off. This way your router’s controls can only be accessed by computers directly wired to it via a CAT-5 cable.
Unlike physical warfare, state-sponsored hacking and cybe rwarfare can indeed spill over into our homes and businesses. Hackers can steal our data, learn our secrets, or be able to take our intellectual properties for themselves. It’s usually done silently and will not necessarily raise alarms but the potential to damage our livelihoods is real. We need to learn how to defend ourselves from these kinds of aggressions in whatever way we can.