/ Technology

Are you aware of the hazards of older routers?

Given how much personal information passes through them each day, it’s always important to ask: just how secure is your home broadband router?

Your router is the gateway to your home network – supplying your smartphone, laptop and other gadgets with a secure internet connection.

But along with your router perhaps not performing as well as you’d like, there’s always a chance that someone unwanted might try to gain access to it and all that personal information that flows through it.

Generally speaking, they’d need to be in close proximity and have serious technical knowledge to hack your router – but the risks still exist, especially with older routers that may no longer be receiving software and security updates.

Age concern

To work out exactly what the situation with old routers is, we enlisted the help of information security firm Context IS.

We looked at two routers that were seven and five years old from two major ISPs – and based on our survey, it’s highly likely both are still being used in thousands of homes.

On both, the analysts found long-established security holes in small pieces of software that allow routers to talk to devices the devices connected to it, including USB drives and printers.

Flawedband

These flaws could allow an attacker to upload and run malicious code, but only if they had physical access to the router.

It’s worth reiterating that the risk is low, but we’d still always recommend you make an effort to have the most up-to-date router possible to minimise as yet undiscovered vulnerabilities.

Do you even know how old your broadband router is? Do you make an effort to upgrade it regularly? Should broadband companies do more to protect their customers?

How old is your internet router?

Getting on a bit – 2 to 5 years old (34%, 931 Votes)

Newish – 1 or 2 years old (22%, 604 Votes)

Old – Over 5 years old (19%, 519 Votes)

Brand new – less than 6 months old (12%, 335 Votes)

Fairly new – 6 months to a year (11%, 294 Votes)

I have no idea how old it is (3%, 90 Votes)

Total Voters: 2,773

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Comments

This comment was removed at the request of the user

This topic really should be pointing people to visit and read Thinkbroadband.com
Especially their webpage on router security and the discussion forum about it

Thanks wev – I found some interesting stuff there, e.g.

forums.thinkbroadband.com/security/4592333-bot-net-affecting-routers.html

This comment was removed at the request of the user

Pointing towards specialist forums (fora?) is very useful for those who want more detailed information.

It’s ‘forums’, Malcolm; the original word has become Anglicised.

I agree with Ian: forums and stadiums are correct modern English plurals, but then so also are criteria and bacteria.

forum (Latin forum “public place outdoors”, plural fora; English plural either fora or forums)”

“Stadia is indeed the correct Latin plural of stadium. It is, however, far more common for English speakers to use stadiums. Latin plurals such as appendices, crises and fungi are still widely used in science and academia.

Somehow, stadia sounds nicer than stadiums. Haven’t come across “academium”.

Could that be because academia is a state of mind rather than a real place?

Pedants call it academe.

From the OED:

forum /ˈfɔ:rəm/ ♫
▶ noun (plural forums)

And the plural of mum is mums not ma 😉

Oh bums (sorry, ba!).

marius says:
15 November 2018

I don’t know why but for me this article sounds more like an advert !!! ok guys it’s time to increase our sales for new fu*%*$ expensive routers ! any idea ? – o yea we can order an article on Which about *old VERY BAD ROUTERS*!!!!!!

This comment was removed at the request of the user

Which?, our consumers’ champion, does sometimes seem to celebrate consumption a bit too much. But there is a serious point here, so some may choose to improve their security by buying new routers.

When my ISP provided router packed up I acquired another independently. As the router was the property of the ISP I wrote and asked if they wanted it back and they sent me another router which I never bothered to install.

Some months later I received a communication from the ISP asking why I wasn’t using their supplied router and suggesting I dust it off and install it.

Obviously I didn’t but it suggests ISP supplied routers are sending information about our browsing habits or whatever to the ISP and they were aggrieved they weren’t getting anything from me.

Something Which? could perhaps look into?

This comment was removed at the request of the user

Phil, the role of your ISP is to provide your internet IP address and your gateway to the web.

So they’ll need to process all of your requests to browse the internet.

That makes it easy for them to monitor your activity and, if appropriate, warn you about, or block you from getting to, undesirable destinations.

Many corporate networks will also monitor and filter outgoing traffic in similar ways. As a defence industry consultant, I used to find it both amusing and annoying when my employer’s net nanny blocked me from getting to “weapons related” websites.

This all happened some years ago, I’ve managed OK without their care and guidance since then and I don’t ever recall ever being blocked from a site by the ISP because they considered it undesirable.

Are you sure it’s not to do with them collecting information about me they can sell on to advertisers?

This comment was removed at the request of the user

Alun says:
25 April 2019

But, if you use a vpn, as you should, all your isp sees is you connecting to the vpn server, then nothing that is not encrypted.