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Users face serious threat as hackers take aim at routers, embedded devices

Attacks are likely to continue and manufacturers are largely unprepared to respond, security researchers say

By Lucian Constantin
April 3, 2014 10:48 AM ET
 

IDG News Service - Home routers and other consumer embedded devices are plagued by basic vulnerabilities and can't be easily secured by non-technical users, which means they'll likely continue to be targeted in what has already become an increasing trend of mass attacks.

 

Computer OSes have advanced considerably from a security standpoint over the last decade, with their creators strengthening code and adding a variety of protections. However, routers, modems, wireless access points and other "plug-and-forget" devices have lagged behind as their makers lacked strong incentives to secure them. As a result, those devices can now pose a significant threat to the online security of users, contrary to the long-held belief that connecting a computer through a home router is better than exposing it directly to the Internet.

 

Routers and other embedded devices have not been on attackers' radar until now, at least not on a significantly large scale. That's starting to change and if the attacks observed this year are any indication, it might be happening at a faster pace than manufacturers can react.

 

Because routers can affect all other local devices that access the Internet through them, they are a rich target, said Trey Ford, global security strategist at security firm Rapid7, via email.

 

"Users expect a website to be authentic, and a compromised router (DSL router, gateway, wireless access point, cable modem -- take your pick) allows a malicious party to undermine that trust. The trend of connecting more devices to the Internet only means there is more for attackers to play with."

 

 

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