The FBI Says Your Router Is Helping Russian Hackers

But there’s one simple thing you can do to fix it.

Alexei Druzhinin/Planet Pix via ZUMA

For indispensable reporting on the coronavirus crisis and more, subscribe to Mother Jones' newsletters.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation made an announcement on Friday that went a bit under the radar, but is huge: Russian hackers devised a sophisticated malware system that has infected hundreds of thousands of internet routers in the United States as part of its ongoing effort to undermine American democracy.

“Foreign cyber actors have compromised hundreds of thousands of home and office routers and other networked devices worldwide,” the agency wrote on a public service announcement released on Friday. “The malware is able to perform multiple functions, including possible information collection, device exploitation, and blocking network traffic.”

The agency called the size and scope of the problem “significant.”

The FBI says that the Russian hacker group “Fancy Bear” is behind the new malware. Fancy Bear is reportedly directed by Russia’s military intelligence agency and is responsible for hacking into the Democratic National Committee ahead of the 2016 presidential election. An estimated 500,000 routers in at least 54 countries were infected with the malware. And devices from major router manufacturers including Linksys, MikroTik, Netgrear, and TP-Link were all affected.

The FBI has since seized a domain name associated with Fancy Bear, www.toknowall.com, which it says was a critical part of the malware’s “command-and-control infrastructure,” according to the New York Times

“This court-ordered seizure will assist in the identification of victim devices and disrupts the ability of these hackers to steal personal and other sensitive information and carry out disruptive cyberattacks,” Scott W. Brady, United States attorney for the Western District of Pennsylvania, said in the statement to the Times

Worried that you’re router’s been compromised? The FBI recommend several steps, including rebooting it, disabling remote management settings, and using a stronger password, especially when encryption is enabled.

Thank you!

We didn't know what to expect when we told you we needed to raise $400,000 before our fiscal year closed on June 30, and we're thrilled to report that our incredible community of readers contributed some $415,000 to help us keep charging as hard as we can during this crazy year.

You just sent an incredible message: that quality journalism doesn't have to answer to advertisers, billionaires, or hedge funds; that newsrooms can eke out an existence thanks primarily to the generosity of its readers. That's so powerful. Especially during what's been called a "media extinction event" when those looking to make a profit from the news pull back, the Mother Jones community steps in.

The months and years ahead won't be easy. Far from it. But there's no one we'd rather face the big challenges with than you, our committed and passionate readers, and our team of fearless reporters who show up every day.

Thank you!

We didn't know what to expect when we told you we needed to raise $400,000 before our fiscal year closed on June 30, and we're thrilled to report that our incredible community of readers contributed some $415,000 to help us keep charging as hard as we can during this crazy year.

You just sent an incredible message: that quality journalism doesn't have to answer to advertisers, billionaires, or hedge funds; that newsrooms can eke out an existence thanks primarily to the generosity of its readers. That's so powerful. Especially during what's been called a "media extinction event" when those looking to make a profit from the news pull back, the Mother Jones community steps in.

The months and years ahead won't be easy. Far from it. But there's no one we'd rather face the big challenges with than you, our committed and passionate readers, and our team of fearless reporters who show up every day.

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate

We have a new comment system! We are now using Coral, from Vox Media, for comments on all new articles. We'd love your feedback.