With IoT devices populating American homes at such a rapid rate, The American Consumer Institute Center for Citizen Research (ACI) took a close look at the average American router, the digital doorway between every home or office and the rest of the internet. What they learned is quite alarming — 5 out of ever 6 routers are inadequately updated for known security flaws.
In their public report, or consumer gram, the ACI states that they studied 186 Wi-Fi routers from 14 different manufacturers. Of those 186 routers, 155 (83%) were found to be vulnerable to cyberattacks. Among those 155, an average of 186 vulnerabilities were found on each router, bringing the full count to 32,003 vulnerabilities discovered in the entire study.
Using the same rankings as the National Vulnerability Database — “low-risk,” “medium-risk,” “high-risk,” and “critical” — 28% of the router vulnerabilities were considered “high-risk” or “critical.”
It’s important to emphasize that the vulnerabilities discovered were due to update negligence. As the report summarizes, “Wi-Fi router manufacturers are neglecting to update their firmware for known vulnerabilities, and the problem is likely more pervasive for other IoT devices. When these security lapses occur, firmware can be fairly easily exploited by hackers with nefarious intentions.”
Avast Security Evangelist Luis Corrons has an additional, and perhaps more pointed perspective: “Here’s the bottom line: Routers are the most critical devices in our networks,” he explains. “If someone compromises our router, that could mean big trouble lies ahead. Cybercriminals can redirect compromised routers to access exactly what the they want, including our phones and computers.” So to make sure your router is not among the vulnerable 83%, Corrons recommends two simple but powerful methods of protection:
Update your firmware — It’s not enough to update your software, apps, and operating systems, but you also need to update the firmware in your router and those IoT devices that require it. Some firmware is programmed to update automatically, but some may require user interaction. Look up your router make and model and make sure your firmware is up-to-date. Make note of any update requirements on your part for every IoT device you bring into your home.
Use Avast Wi-Fi Inspector — Available in all Avast products, this feature not only scans your network to identify any vulnerability that needs to be addressed, it also points to other potential security issues that may open the door to threats, including weak passwords and risky router setting.
One additional consideration: if your router is very old, you might consider buying a new one or contact your ISP to get a replacement.