A huge number of us are working from home during the coronavirus pandemic, but our home networks may not be up to the task when it comes to security, according to a recent study (opens in new tab) by Germany’s Fraunhofer Institute for Communication (FKIE). The FKIE examined 127 of the best WiFi routers (opens in new tab) from across seven different manufacturers and found that they all had significant security flaws.
“Our results are alarming. There is no router without flaws. 46 routers did not get any security update within the last year,” said the researchers in the summary of their findings. They also stated that “Many routers are affected by hundreds of known vulnerabilities. Even if the routers got recent updates, many of these known vulnerabilities were not fixed.”
The seven companies whose routers were tested were ASUS, AVM, D-Link, Linksys, Netgear, TP-Link, and Zyxcel. Various models were tested from each company and while some were more secure than others, all had vulnerabilities. The report concludes that “AVM does a better job than the other vendors regarding most of the security aspects. However, AVM routers are not flawless as well. ASUS and Netgear do a better job on some aspects than D-Link, Linksys, TP-Link and Zyxel.”
What should you do to secure your home network?
First thing’s first, we don’t recommend ripping your current router out of the wall and smashing it up with baseball bats, all Office Space style. For one thing, these security exploits and gaps were found in WiFi routers from all of the major manufacturers. Instead, we’d just take this as yet another reminder that we should be doing everything we can to keep our home devices safe from would-be attackers.
Buying and installing one of the best internet security software (opens in new tab) is a great starting point. These software combine the best antivirus software (opens in new tab) with other security features, including a firewall. Firewalls block and regulate incoming and outgoing traffic, preventing other people from connecting to your local network. So even if they break through your WiFi router’s defenses, they shouldn’t be able to access your wider network. It’s not foolproof, but this added layer of protection is highly recommended.
You should also look into signing up to one of the best VPN services (opens in new tab). A VPN is a service that masks your IP address by creating an encrypted connection with a server somewhere else in the world, making it incredibly difficult for someone to access your network. This means that your online activities are protected and you will be largely anonymous, since tracking software won’t be able to trace you back to your home IP address. We have a full article explaining what is a VPN, and why do you need one? (opens in new tab) if you'd like to know more about VPNs.