How To Tell If Someone Hacked Your Router

In this guide, we’ll explain exactly how to tell if someone hacked your router. Routers play a crucial role in providing internet access for homes and businesses. However, they do create the risk of unauthorized access and security breaches. A hacked router can compromise your data, privacy, and devices.

It’s important to be vigilant and recognize the signs of a compromised router. We’ll explore key indicators that can help you tell if someone has hacked your router and provide tips on proactively securing and protecting your network from threats.

How to Tell If Your WiFi is Hacked – Signs Your Internet is Tapped

If you suspect your router has been hacked, you shouldn’t take it lightly. If cybercriminals have access to your router, they can hack every device that’s connected to it. Here’s how to tell if your WiFi is hacked and the key signs to look out for.

1. Suspicious Network Activity

It’s worth periodically reviewing your router’s activity logs to check for the IP addresses of any devices you don’t recognize.

Seeing an unfamiliar IP could be an indication that someone has gained access to your network and is silently stealing your data.

2. You Can’t Connect to Your Router

You’ll usually access your router with a password, however, if your password isn’t working or you can’t access your router’s settings, it could be an indication someone has hacked your router – possibly through a brute force attack – and changed the login details.

Once a cybercriminal has access to your router, they can change the password and other admin settings to deny you access. If this is the case, they may have complete control over your network.

3. Alerts From Your ISP

Your ISP will generally have a good idea of the usual traffic sent through your router. If you receive an alert from your ISP informing you of unusual activity on your network, you should be concerned about the matter.

However, it’s very important that you first verify this is a legitimate notification before you take any action to resolve the issue, as phishing attacks often trick people into clicking on links by falsely warning them about security breaches. If in doubt, contact your ISP to ensure the alert is genuine.

4. Slow Internet Connections

Various factors can influence your internet speeds, including the weather, outdated firmware, and router placement. However, if you notice your internet connection is consistently slower than usual, it could indicate that your router has been compromised.

5. Losing Control of Your Devices

Having an unprotected router can actually mean someone can hack into your phone through WiFi. This is known as session hijacking, and it grants a cybercriminal control over a device, whether it be a desktop computer or smartphone.

Hackers can then move freely through systems, including applications and files, as if they were sitting in front of the device.

6. Ransomware Messages

If you’ve experienced a ransomware attack – seeing your files being encrypted and your device being locked – you should take a close look at every aspect of your digital security, including your router.

While you could be exposed to ransomware by corrupted files and malicious sites, having an infected router means that every device connected to it could be held to ransom.

It also means that even if you pay off the hackers, any traffic running through the router will remain unsecured, and your devices will remain vulnerable to hijacking if you don’t address the root problem.

7. Strange Device Behavior

A compromised router can be used to download malware onto your devices. If you notice unusual behavior on one or more devices, you should be aware that your router may be infected. Here are some of the warning signs to look out for.

  • Browsers redirecting — Hackers can change domain and IP address settings so your browser persistently navigates to a page of their choosing. This will often be a website hosting malware so they can gain further access to your system and information.
  • Numerous pop-up ads — Pop-up ads are annoying but generally legit. If you notice a significantly increased number of pop-up ads, scareware notifications, or pop-ups generated by unusual programs, it could be an indication that your router has been hacked.
  • Mysterious apps and programs — If you see a program, browser extension, or browser toolbar you don’t recognize, you should check it out and consider deleting it immediately. You could be hit with a drive-by download if you visit a compromised site, and legitimate software can sometimes be bundled with potentially unwanted programs.
  • Unusual activity on multiple devices — A hacked router can infect every device that connects to it. If you notice suspicious activity on multiple devices, it could be an indication that your router has been compromised and is a threat to your whole network.

What to Do If Your Router is Hacked

If you have experienced any of these problems and believe there is a hacker in your network, there are some basic steps to take to resolve the issue – here’s what to do if your WiFi is hacked.

  1. Disconnect your router

    This is the very first thing you should do, and it will stop the progress of any cyberattack in its tracks. If you have a wired router, unplug the Ethernet cable to cut all communications to the internet. If your router is wireless, simply disconnect its internet connection by switching it off.
  2. Reset your router

    Giving your router a factory reset will clear its memory and remove any malicious programs that may have been installed on it. This can be done by locating the router’s power button and holding it down for ten to twenty seconds or until you see the light begin to flash.
  3. Change the password

    The next step is to implement a strong password. This makes it harder for hackers to gain access to your network. It’s useful to have a good password manager to generate and store strong passwords for your accounts.

    It’s also a good idea to change the passwords for your online accounts, prioritizing bank accounts and email addresses, as cybercriminals could have obtained this information while in your network.

  4. Change the network name

    Routers come with default network names (also known as SSIDs). These should always be changed once you’ve set your router up.

    Hackers can use a default SSID to identify your ISP and collect information to hack your router. Changing it makes it more difficult for hackers to find information on your specific router.

  5. Update firmware

    Outdated software can enable hackers to access your router. That means performing software updates is vital for security. This can often be done automatically to ensure updates are installed as soon as they’re released. Your router’s user guide will cover the steps needed to set this up.
  6. Get an antivirus

    The final step is to ensure you have a reputable antivirus solution in place. The best antivirus software will analyze links and files, flag suspicious activity, and monitor your network for any signs of intruders.

How to Stop Your Router Getting Hacked

Norton Password Manager
Norton Password Manager

Now that we’ve covered what to do if your WiFi is hacked, let’s take a look at how to ensure it never happens again.

1. Use a Strong Password

Creating a new password may delay a hacker, but you won’t be safe for long if your password is weak. Today, it’s easy for hackers to collect information on birthdates, pet names, and street addresses and to compile a list of potential passwords to hack your router.

It’s best to use a complex password that involves a mix of numbers, letters, and symbols. Password managers are great at generating these kinds of complex passwords and can help you securely store them.

2. Keep Software Up To Date

Keeping your software up to date is essential for staying safe online. This includes maintaining the firmware installed on your router, which can be set up to update automatically.

You should also make sure any antivirus software you have installed is up to date as well. Many solutions will inform you of updates, so you won’t need to do this manually, but it’s worth double-checking periodically.

You can also ensure all your network traffic is secure and encrypted by installing a VPN on your router.

3. Disable Remote Access

Remote access is convenient as it allows you to access your network from another location, but it’s also a major cybersecurity risk.

Hackers can exploit this and gain access to your information without your knowledge. Disabling this feature from your router settings is advisable unless it’s absolutely essential for you.

4. Disable WPS

WiFi Protected Setup (WPS) makes it easier to set up and connect to a WiFi network, as you just need to use a PIN rather than a password.

However, that PIN can be decrypted by hackers, so it’s best to deactivate this function, which can leave you exposed.

Summary – How Do I Remove Hackers From My Network?

In the face of a suspected router hack, prompt action is vital to mitigate risks and secure your network. Disconnect and reset your router, update passwords, keep firmware up-to-date, and install a reliable antivirus.

This approach not only addresses immediate threats but establishes robust defenses and ensures you have a secure internet connection. It’s important that you monitor and maintain these defenses, however, to ensure the resilience of your network against evolving threats.

FAQs

Can a WiFi router be hacked?

What are the signs of a hacked router?

How do you know if someone is stealing your WiFi?

How do I know if my IP address has been hacked?

Related Questions

Related How To’s

Related Terms

Justin Van Gent
Technology Writer

As an experienced freelance writer for Techopedia.com, Justin strives to provide accurate, informative comparisons and reviews on both B2B and B2C tech solutions — ranging from product reviews to CRMs, security software, and beyond.