Your router isn't as safe as you think -- malware has infected many of them, and could put you at risk. Here's how to check your router for malware and keep it safe.
There have been many reported malware attacks on routers, including routers made by Linksys and Asus. Malware can not only harm your network and systems, but it can use your router to launch denial of service (DDoS) attacks against Web sites. This spring, the Web security firm Incapsula discovered a botnet composed of tens of thousands of routers that had been used to launch such exploits.
There are ways to keep yourself safe, though, and it's not tough to do. How you do it varies from router to router, but the same general techniques apply to all. I'll show you how to do it with a Linksys.
First, upgrade your router's firmware -- that will have the latest security patches. Check the manufacturer's Web site, or else your router itself. On my Linksys, I do it by logging into the router, then clicking Administration --> Firmware upgrade.
Next, make sure remote administration is turned off. On many Linksys routers, log in, then select Administration. Make sure remote administration is set to Disabled. Some routers might not clearly tell you whether remote administration is disabled or enabled. If the remote management IP address is 0.0.0.0, it's disabled. If it's an IP address other than that, turn it off.
It's a good idea to check what DNS server your router is using, if any, because a hijacked DNS is a potential sign your router has been hacked. Check the DNS setting. On a Linksys router, after you log in, go to Setup. You'll see your DNS settings down near the bottom of the page. If they all have 0.0.0.0, you're OK. So are DNS settings for Google DNS (220.127.116.11 and 18.104.22.168), and for OpenDNS (22.214.171.124 and 126.96.36.199). If you see unfamiliar settings, it could mean trouble. You might want to do an Internet search for them, and see if they're reported as being linked to malware.
Make sure to change the default password on your router --- hackers know all the defaults, and you don't want to leave your front door open for them. And make sure to use a strong password
You should also turn off universal plug and play (UPnP). It's a well-known security risk on routers. On a Linksys router, log in, then go to Administration and makes sure that the UPnP setting is disabled.