Late last month, the FBI announced that it has evidence that Russian hackers have compromised computer networks all around the world, and are requesting that everyone reboot their routers to try and stem the spread. According to a PSA released by the FBI, the hackers have employed the VPNFilter Malware to target somewhere in the realm of 500,000 routers.
A router is a device that you almost certainly have at home that connects your devices to your modem, which then connects you to the internet. You may not have a separate device for this function, it may be built directly into the modem that was provided by your internet service provider. Regardless of whether you’ve got a standalone wireless or wired router, or if it’s part of an all-in-one, it’s important that you follow the bureau’s instructions to reboot it.
To reboot the device (or really, any network device) simply pull the power plug on it, count to twenty (or thirty, just to be sure), and then plug it back in. Depending on the device, it could take a while to power back up and apply all its settings, so don’t get too worried if it takes more than five minutes before you have an internet connection again. That should be all it takes, however, it would be wise to take the time to update the firmware on your router, provided you know how. If not, maybe have some professionals take care of it for you.
It’s hard to tell for sure whether or not your router has been hacked without assistance from your ISP, but as a precaution, it’s highly recommended that you take the time to reboot. Whatever you do, don’t make the mistake of thinking this won’t affect you. The exact function of the VPNFilter virus is still under investigation, but there is evidence of it being used to steal web credentials and even self-destruct, essentially reducing your router to a mere paperweight. The inconvenience of rebooting your router is surely a worthwhile price to pay for the assurance that a hacker isn’t about to take down your network.