Your home router provides wired and wireless Internet connections to devices within your home network. Such devices could include your computer, tablet, smartphone, and even printer. More importantly, your router helps shield your devices from attackers – that is if you’ve properly secured your home router.
While it’s imperative that you secure your router, what if that’s not enough? What if there was a vulnerability within the firmware of the router that could allow an attacker remote control over it?
Recently, Check Point’s Malware and Vulnerability Research Group uncovered Misfortune Cookie, a vulnerability that does just this. According to Check Point’s research, at least 12 million devices globally have been detected to contain this vulnerability, making this one of the most widespread and severe vulnerabilities in recent years.
What does Misfortune Cookie mean for you?
An attacker who exploits the Misfortune Cookie vulnerability would have the ability to monitor your Internet connections, steal your credentials and personal data, infect your machines with malware, and even control the devices on your network. In fact, the attack possibilities are virtually limitless. In addition, an attacker could change your router’s Domain Name System (DNS) configuration, consequently allowing him to redirect you to fake bank websites or to perform a man-in-the-middle attack.
What can you do?
Secure your PC with firewall and antivirus software
Security must be approached in layers. Since Misfortune Cookie could allow an attacker to bypass your router’s hardware firewall, having robust two-way (inbound and outbound) firewall software on your PC creates another layer of security that greatly enhances your protection against an attack. While all Windows PCs come with a built-in firewall, Misfortune Cookie could allow an attacker to very easily disable it, consequently leaving your PC wide open for an attacker to enter and exit it without restriction. To combat against this, the two-way firewall you have on your PC should be hardened with self-protection to prevent it from being disabled.
Furthermore, should an attacker gain control over your router and redirect you to malicious websites, your antivirus software is there, as yet another layer of security, to detect and remove threats before it can infect and cause damage to your PC.
In all, your two-way firewall and antivirus work hand-in-hand to give you optimal protection against malware and online attacks.
Encrypt your web traffic
Another security measure you should highly consider implementing is encrypting your web traffic with HTTPS Everywhere. HTTPS Everywhere is a browser extension for Firefox, Chrome, and Opera that makes websites more secure by automatically rerouting them from HTTP to HTTPS (secure).
The benefit of encrypting your web traffic is that your data being sent out to the Internet becomes scrambled. This, as a result, renders your data completely useless to an attacker, while keeping your traffic and data safe and secure.
Update your router’s firmware
Finally, to improve the security of your router you should keep the firmware up-to-date. These updates help to improve the performance of your router, as well as resolve issue and vulnerabilities from previous firmware versions.
Check out this article on updating firmware for wireless routers
It’s important to note that you should update your firmware from a computer that is connected to the router via Ethernet cable. Avoid updating your firmware wirelessly, as this may cause instability issues.
Regardless if you use a router for your home or small office, it’s important that you employ the security measures above. Keeping your router’s firmware patched, securing your PC with adequate security software, and encrypting your web traffic all contribute to strengthening your overall security against attackers and online threats.