For quite some time, Wi-Fi routers set up at home have always been a good target for hackers. A recent string of documents unveiled by WikiLeaks shows that even the CIA has been hard at work developing tools that allow them to hack into your router, and that they’ve been at it for years. The CIA are using a collection of tools, dubbed CherryBlossom, to monitor Internet activity on networks that use the routers it infects.
Is Your Router Susceptible to Attack?
Among the leaked documents, there’s one that lists specific routers that can be accessed by the CIA. Up until mid-2012, they had come up with special implants “for about 25 different devices from 10 different manufacturers”, with Belkin, D-Link, Asus, Netgear and Linksys featuring on their list.
CherryBlossom, one of the implants, is said to work quite well against two particular models; D-Link’s DIR-130, and Linksys WRT300N since they can be remotely infected, even with a strong admin password setup. Also mentioned in the leaked files was Surfside and Tomato.
You’re welcome to go through this article for a comprehensive list of all the WiFi equipment vendors that were included in the leaked document.
CherryBlossom allows CIA agents to establish control & interact with the SOHO routers on the victim’s network. This allows them to zone in on a specific target using personal information such as their MAC address, email address or even their chat handle. They would then be able to do the following:
- Copy personal details such as email addresses or VoIP number.
- Proxy all the network connections.
- Copy all or some of the traffic.
- Create a private connection which grants access to the local area network.
- Redirect or exploit a user’s browser through a feature known as “Windex”.
The documents continue to reveal that the data retrieved is stored in a command and control system that has scattered servers in various secure locations, and is dubbed Cherry Tree. We are yet to know for sure whether the CIA is using such technology to infringe on people’s privacy; and we also cannot confirm beyond reasonable doubt that the NSA does not engage in similar tactics.
The shocking revelation about the CIA comes as part of a list of publications citing its numerous hacking tools, a number of which are also said to work with Samsung Smart TVs, and Apple products. As always, WikiLeaks maintains that it will not be leaving any of the source code to the mentioned tools for public use.
How VPN Can Help
A reliable VPN service should be at the forefront of such threats since you get to secure your Internet traffic, as well as ensure your online privacy. To make this possible, a Virtual Private Network works by encrypting any traffic that reaches your router. This prevents any third parties from deciphering your data even after intercepting it. Additionally, proper VPN service providers do not keep any record of their customer’s online activity. This means that your VPN provider will not hand over any of your personal information to authorities. Here are the most reliable VPN services in 2017.
- Best for streaming and privacy
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- Works for Netflix, BBC iPlayer, Amazon Prime Video, and Hulu
- 24/7/ live chat support
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- UltraHD streaming
- Free Smart DNS proxy
- Unblocks all major streaming services
- Limited Time 72% Discount
- Unlimited VPN connections
- Over 1000 servers
- Ad-blocking feature available
- User-friendly application
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- Standalone Smart DNS subscription available
The best way to set up a VPN connection is by configuring it directly on your router. Simply follow these steps to add an extra layer of security to your online browsing.