Dwight Watt - Watt Thoughts #349 5/27/2018

#349 - VPNFilter malware and FBI (Watt Thoughts)

The FBI issued a warning the end of the week that terrorists had installed a VPNFilter malware in many people and business routers to the Internet. The FBI recommends turning all routers off and back on to stop much of the capabilities of the malware.

The malware appears to give this group control of the routers and also includes a kill switch supposedly that will allow them to permanently disable the router. The hardware makers say they have updates for these devices firmware that will stop the malware.

Turning off and on will improve the security of the devices but not completely secure them. For almost all my readers they have no idea how to upgrade the firmware and it is not real simple. Here are my suggestions given that.

First do the turn off and on of your equipment connecting to the Internet. This is problem one with the FBI suggestion. Very few people know what a router is and my second question is does the FBI really mean just routers or also switches. If you have any devices at your location that connect your computer (including your phone to wireless to Internet), turn these devices on and off. That includes your computer and anything you may know as a modem, switch router or wireless access point.

On your computer if you are not running Windows 10 I would suggest running updates (type updates in the search and then choose and run to find any and install). On Windows 10 it should automatically be installing updates (as we have been reminded in last week or two while it installs a major update) but you can do same if want. On MACs I am not as deeply coherent on and not sure on updates. I think they have done automatic updates longer than Windows started in 10.

You can update the firmware on your routers and switches but varies by model on how. If you want to do that search on the Internet for the device manufacturer and model number and updates and you will find directions. Some are better than others so try several links. If it is equipment provided by your Internet provider you may not be able to update it and hopefully they will push updates.

The good news is the FBI does not think they have activated the malware and not sure if will use. However the FBI needs to be much clearer on these announcements and point people to help on doing. Most people just have a basic computer literacy.



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