A router is essentially your gateway to the internet. All your devices need to connect to it first before they go online. Considering the importance of a router, you can probably guess that this device needs to work properly. If it gets hacked somehow, it will become a threat to your personal information.
You might be thinking that there is no way someone can gain access to your router, but the truth is there are several ways a cybercriminal can hack it. For instance, many users enable remote management, allowing anyone with access to the internet to connect to the router. Hackers can also exploit various weaknesses, such as passwords and old software.
So let’s explore the signs that can tell if someone hacked your router!
Can’t log in to the router
All routers have a default username and password. Users are advised to change them during the setup process, and most of them do. These login credentials allow you to access settings. But your router could be hacked if you can’t log in anymore.
Cybercriminals might’ve guessed your login credentials, especially if you tend to use the same password across different websites. If they have access to your router, hackers can change your settings. Remember that sometimes a router itself might prevent you from logging in. So before you do anything, try to reset your router.
Unknown software on your devices
Have you noticed strange apps appearing out of nowhere on your tablet or phone, and you know you haven’t downloaded them yourself? Your laptop suddenly has a browser toolbar, and popups appear on every website you visit even though you have an ad blocker?
These are all signs of a hacked router. Someone is downloading malware on the devices connected to your network. You can deal with this by changing your router’s password. Then remove the unknown software from your devices, and scan them for malware.
Redirected to strange websites
Most of us have our daily routine and visit the same websites for news, updates, and email. But if you are redirected to a completely different address every time you load a page, something could be very wrong.
It is a potential sign that a cybercriminal has access to your router and they’ve changed the Domain Name System settings. It means that your traffic is redirected to a malicious server, which then sends you to websites filled with malware. All devices using your Wi-Fi could be in danger, so quickly log in to your router and fix the DNS settings.
Your internet connection is slow
A slow internet connection is not an instant red flag. Perhaps your kids are downloading large files on multiple devices, or the internet provider is experiencing technical issues. But if you have a hard time accessing websites for days and have unknown apps on your phone, your router might be hacked.
Hackers use it for various purposes, such as internet piggybacking, connecting to your devices, and many more. They might be distributing malware to your devices as we speak! Again, you can deal with this problem by setting up a different password or resetting your router.
How to protect your router
Keeping your router safe is an absolute must, especially today when we store so much personal and financial information on our devices. Here’s what you can do to prevent someone from hacking your router:
- Automatic updates: Your router has its firmware, and manufacturers release regular updates with security patches. Some users forget to switch on automatic updates. It could allow cybercriminals to gain access to a device. Check the settings of your router to ensure it is up to date.
- Learn cybersecurity basics: Most users unknowingly download malware, and that small mistake can result in a hacked router. Therefore, it is crucial not to open links sent to you by unknown individuals or click on popup ads. You can solve the latter by using an ad blocker.
- Regular reboots: A monthly reboot can do wonders for your router. It will clear up the short-term memory, also known as the cache. Additionally, you could have a stronger connection and a new public IP address.
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