The wireless routers people use to connect to the Internet in their homes are becoming an increasingly popular target for hackers.
An analysis of 20 high-selling routers by the Wall Street Journal found that half of the devices had documented security weaknesses. Ten of the devices also didn’t prompt users to check for software updates during the initial installation process, though in some cases they did have updates available online.
By targeting insecure routers, hackers can steal sensitive information that users send over their home Internet connections. Even encrypted data can be subject to theft in some scenarios.
Routers loaded with outdated software have become a more popular target for hackers as Internet browsers have grown more secure thanks to automatic updates, according to the Journal. Routers are especially difficult to keep secure because many users aren’t made aware when security updates are issued, or don’t bother to update their devices if they are alerted.
Devices from well-known router manufacturers such as Belkin, Linksys and Netgear were all being sold with outdated firmware, according to the Journal analysis.
The issues surrounding router security are expected to multiply as more home devices are connected to the Internet.