Report: Most WiFi Routers Very Poorly Protected

Brandon Dimmel's picture

A survey of 2,000 households in the United Kingdom has revealed that few people take their WiFi network's security seriously enough. In fact, the security software firm behind the study, Avast, says our approach to home WiFi security is comparable to attitudes towards PC security in the 1990s -- which is not very good at all.

Weak WiFi Passwords a Serious Problem

Avast's survey revealed a number of alarming issues. First, the company found that more than 50 per cent of all home routers have little or no protection, making them easy to hack. In far too many cases, Avast found people using extremely simple WiFi router passwords, such as 'admin' or even the word 'password'. Avast also found that about one in four home users used their home address, name, phone number, or street name as their router password. (Source:

DNS Hijacking Can Go Completely Unnoticed

Avast says that these oversights could make for an easy access point for hackers, who could use these security gaps to gain access to a home network and steal sensitive information. Avast points to DNS (Domain Name System) hijacking as a particularly scary threat; this involves using malware to adjust a router's DNS settings, which in turn redirects users to counterfeit sites controlled by cybercriminals.

For example, if you typed in in your web browser, the router could be programmed to take you to a website that is designed to look and act like yahoo, but instead designed solely for the purpose of stealing your user ID and password. While all this is happening, the web browser would still report the URL in the address bar as, so the attack would go completely unnoticed in most cases.

Similar to the portmanteau term phishing, this type of DNS hijack attack is referred to as pharming.

Router Security "Reminiscent of PCs in the 1990s"

Vince Steckler, Avast's chief executive officer, says these attitudes are reflective of a bygone era. "Today's router security situation is very reminiscent of PCs in the 1990s, with lax attitudes towards security combined with new vulnerabilities being discovered every day creating an easily exploitable environment," said Steckler. "The main difference is people have much more personal information stored on their devices today than they did back then." (Source:

The study also revealed just how widespread WiFi usage is in the United Kingdom. An incredible 88 per cent of people who have a WiFi network connect to it using six or more devices, such as desktop computers, laptops, tablets, or smartphones.

Avast also found that, despite the apathetic attitude most people have towards WiFi security, the vast majority (74 per cent) said they would feel very uncomfortable to find out that a neighbor was using their WiFi network without permission. Meanwhile, just under one in ten respondents said they had used someone else's WiFi network without the owner's knowledge or permission.

Need Help Setting up or Disabling WiFi, Router, or Router Password?

Is your router's WiFi set up properly? Do you have a sneaking suspicion that your neighbor might be using your WiFi without your permission? Do you have poor WiFi performance and want to know how to optimize it? If you need a second opinion, contact Dennis to set up an appointment for an audit of your network.

What's Your Opinion?

Do you or someone you know continue to use a simple WiFi password? Have you or anyone you know ever been hacked as a result of using a simple password? Do you use your neighbor's WiFi or have you caught someone using your wifi without your permission? Do you agree with Avast's CEO that current approaches to WiFi security resemble attitudes towards PC security in the 1990s?

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