Lancashire Times
Weekend Edition
Jamie Durham
IT Correspondent
2:33 AM 14th July 2020

How Secure Is Your Home Router?

While some businesses are slowly welcoming staff back to their respective HQs, many employees – and employers – are still electing to work from home as long as the threat lingers on. But, are those relying on home broadband at risk of a cyber attack instead?

Although companies can spend thousands of pounds on secure gateways to the internet, when it comes to home connections, service providers sometimes look to maximise profit by providing cheap routers with an enticing monthly contract.

Unfortunately, while these cheaper devices can have a tendency to impact the speed and reliability of household connectivity, a much bigger threat lies in whether or not they compromise security too.

According to The Fraunhofer Institute for Communication in Germany, they do.

Published in June, the ‘Home Router Security Report 2020’ tested 127 router models – manufactured by seven major vendors – and nearly all were found to have security flaws. Problems ranged from missing security updates to easily decrypted, hard-coded passwords. All known vulnerabilities that should have been patched long ago.

Ninety percent of the routers tested used Linux as their operating system (OS) and, to add insult to injury, many were found to be vastly outdated, having not received security updates in 12 months – and in some cases, up to five years.

As a community, Linux is generally considered one of the most secure of all operating systems – and its contributors are fastidious about keeping the OS secure – so much so that it is used in most web servers around the world.

However, research team leader Peter Weidenbach believes that manufacturers are no longer focused on some of the security aspects they perhaps should be.

But, if this is the case, what does it mean for home workers and their routers?

While the root of the problem may physically lie in an employee’s living room, security flaws via a private connection can be a huge problem for businesses. And, although private connections do not generally fall under the purview of commercial IT departments, with a large portion of the nation working from home at present, there is an argument to say they should.

Unfortunately, if your team’s home internet infrastructure leaves your business open to attack, securing it may not be as easy as simply replacing the current router. In some instances, service providers may claim it is a ‘breach of contract’ if account holders use any device other than the one provided.

Therefore, if you have genuine security concerns, it is always best to speak to a professional to see how any home router stands up to scrutiny. For those who cannot change models because of contractual obligations, a professional can install a secondary firewall to protect machines from any shortcomings – and keep your all-important digital data secure.