Wi-Fi routers - worrying South-East stats that help cyber criminals

Almost three-quarters (73%) of consumers have never changed their Wi-Fi router’s password in the South-East, leaving them exposed to cyber criminals.

Router threat
Router threat

The survey of more than 2,000 people, conducted by Nationwide Building Society, also found more than four in ten in the South-East (43%) don’t know how to change a router’s password.

This is despite the fact that some examples of things cyber criminals can do if they do manage to hack your router include:

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· Redirect people to malicious websites, such as phishing pages or malware downloads

· Destroy a router and prevent it from working

· Force people to use weak encryption or prevent use of encryption completely

· Use a router to hide traces of their criminal attempts to hack or attack others

Just under a third (32%) of those who have changed passwords in the South-East admitted they initially used the default password that came with the device.

This could be putting people at higher risk of having their data – from personal details, bank cards and online banking details - stolen by cyber criminals who can more easily break a weak or common password.

One of the ways fraudsters are able to scam customers is using genuine information found in their emails.

For example, they could see an exchange with a builder and learn you will be expecting an invoice to arrange payment.

The fraudster will then send you an email posing as the builder from a near similar email address, but include their account details where they can then access the money.

More than half (56%) of those surveyed said they had accessed their emails via public Wi-Fi, putting themselves at greater risk of falling victim to invoice scams.

Matt Rowe, Nationwide’s Director or Cyber Security said: “Routers play a vital yet unglamorous role in the vast majority of homes up and down the country, as they sit behind televisions, in cupboards and generally hidden from sight. But we also appear to be taking them for granted when it comes to security. This means that for many of us, we are putting our data and finances at risk by failing to change and update passwords and run updates.

“We lead increasingly busy lives and we demand access to the internet at all times, meaning we will often look to use public Wi-Fi. However, this is far more easily spoofed or hacked by cyber criminals and, if you access your personal information, including your bank accounts, you could potentially be opening the door to them getting access to your personal data and money. Cyber criminals will always go for the easy target, so protect yourself to avoid becoming a criminal’s next payday.”

Top three tips for keeping your data safe:

· Change your router password: While the password you get with the router may look random, it isn’t. Go online to the router provider’s website and change the password to a complex one.

· Run firmware patches regularly: Just like you update your smart phone or laptop, you need to update your router. Companies detect new threats all the time and regularly running updates will offer you the best protection.

· Don’t access sensitive information when connected to public Wi-Fi: Public Wi-Fi is unencrypted and therefore comparatively easy for cyber criminals to access. Avoid accessing banking details or emails and where possible use a Virtual Private Network (VPN).