WASHINGTON - If you have a router at home, the FBI has an urgent warning – they are asking people to reboot their routers in order to help stop a cyberattack.
The FBI is calling the attack “significant.” The malicious software is known as VPNFilter – and once it is on your device, it could collect any of your data running through it.
The Justice Department says the VPNFilter’s computer code in the malware is similar to what they have seen before.
“There are theories that this is a Russian group known as APT28, or 'FancyBear' is what they are commonly known as,” explained Adam Benson, the deputy executive director of Digital Citizens Alliance, a non-profit for cybersecurity research. “They are a group to be reckoned with. They are very effective at what they do.”
That is the group believed to be behind the Democratic National Committee hack in the 2016 election.
“They now have set their sights on stealing information, it appears, from regular Americans and going after their home devices,” added Benson.
But what are the hackers after?
“Right now, it is tough to say what they are doing with it, but the possibilities are endless,” he explained. “Once you get into somebody’s home device, you can run across bank accounts, you can run across work emails, you can run across pictures and photographs. You can do all kinds of things once you have access to them … If it is a nation state hacker, they get a hold of your information and don’t necessarily tell you they have it and save it for another day.”
Half a million routers in more than 50 countries are infected. So far, brands like Linksys, MikroTik, Netgear and TP-Link have been identified, but there could be others.
So here is what you should do:
1. Reboot your router. Keep it off for at least 60 seconds to wipe the malware
2. Update your software and choose a strong password to make sure it doesn’t come back
3. If you have a home system operated remotely through your phone for example, you may consider temporarily disabling it