Over half of UK internet users at risk from router security issues

Router security

British broadband comparison site Broadband Genie has discovered that over half of the UK population are exposed to router security issues.

In a recent survey the threat to users’ security was discovered after 51% of respondents answered that they had never carried out any security provisions on their router.

This included basic security practices such as changing the default password of the router or updating its firmware.

Who’s at fault?

For many everyday internet users a router is a device that is often installed by their ISP and left in the corner of their home never to be touched or thought about again.

There is little awareness about the security of home routers and aside from perhaps a quick mention to the customer to change the default password often nothing more is done to press the issue of security by the installing ISP.

Many customers are clearly unaware of the need to carry out such security measures. The Broadband Genie survey discovered that 48% of users who had never taken any security measures did not know that it was needed.

A further 34% said they wouldn’t know where to change the settings in the first place.

Basic security features being missed

The opportunity to secure customer’s home routers is clearly being missed. There are often campaigns and awareness that users should install anti-virus and internet security packages on their devices but less so on the main gateway to the internet, the router.

This is actually a huge shame because some security features can be done within seconds. Such as, changing the default router password. Often routers come with a default password to login to their administration area and some even allow access to these areas remotely.

It would therefore be incredibly easy for a hacker to search for home broadband router connections and login with the default password.

Luckily many UK ISPs such as Virgin Media now supply randomised passwords for each router and the admin page is not accessible remotely by default. However, this is in stark contrast to just a few years ago when many default passwords were set to phrases as simple as ‘changeme’ and it is this old hardware that is most at risk.

If the latest Broadband Genie survey is anything to go by then very few users actually ‘changed me’ with a reported 82% of respondents stating they had never changed the default admin password.

An even higher 86% claimed to have never updated the firmware of their router and while many providers do automatically update, there are some that don’t.

Simple measures make a secure environment

Basics like updating firmware should be standard knowledge for all internet users. Such measures can not only improve the performance of the connection but can also patch known security issues that can be exploited without updating.

With thousands of different devices now being internet enabled it is those such as ‘cot cams’, home security cameras & webcams amongst others that often have zero security protections built-in. With high risks of privacy breaches it is for these exact reasons why home router security is such a critical issue.

Gagan Singh, the SVP & Mobile at Avast Security said “the reality is that many smart devices can be compromised, including thermostats, streaming boxes, webcams and digital personal assistants all through the router” and went on to say “The first step is to ensure the gateway into the home, the router, is secure.”

From the 2,205 internet users that Broadband Genie surveyed it is clear there is an issue, but who is at fault? Is it the ISPs for not doing enough to educate users, the consumer for blindly using the internet without considering security or the education and social system which does little to educate the population?

What is clear is, the issue is big and something needs to change for us all to enjoy a more secure online future. Until that time Broadband Genie have put together a guide on how to secure up your router which you can check out here.

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