Australia is one of 54 countries that has been infected by a nasty computer virus currently spreading around the world, dubbed VPNFilter.
The malicious software (malware), which is believed to have already infected about 500,000 devices around the world, mainly targets your wi-fi router, snooping on all the internet traffic coming in and out of your house.
Basically, it’s like someone looking over your shoulder and watching your every move each time you jump on the internet, and writing down all your passwords and credit card details.
It has also been found to infect Network Attached Storage devices – a hard drive you connect directly to your router that allows you to access media files from anywhere in the world.
If you thought that was bad, the malware can also be used to disable the infected device, rendering it completely inoperable. Yes, it’s quite nasty.
Until recently, it was believed VPNFilter was targeting consumer devices only.
However, in recent days, the Ukraine Secret Service singled out Russian hackers as the culprits behind a digital attack on a Ukrainian water filter and chlorination plant that could have affected the entire nation’s water supply.
The attack, which lasted several minutes, attempted to infiltrate the water plant’s computer network using VPNFilter.
This cyberattack was not the first Ukraine has suffered in recent years; the most recent being a malware assault on the country’s power supply, in 2016, which left portions of the nation’s capital, Kiev, without power.
What you can do
First, check the full list of affected devices, which includes makers Asus, D-Link, Linksys, Netgear, QNAP and others.
The majority of these devices can be purchased through any number of popular retailers, so there’s a high possibility that VPNFilter has infected the home equipment of many Australian internet users.
To determine if your equipment is on the list, you will need to know the brand and model number of the device – usually found on the underside, along with the serial number.
Next, scan your home network for VPNFilter – follow the instructions here.
Finally, ensure the firmware for your network devices is up to date. You will need to consult the manual for each individual device connected to your home internet network, such as the gateway, wi-fi router, network switch and so on.
This also includes any Internet of Things (IoT) devices you may have, such as a smart switch or smart LED lights. These devices may have a dedicated smartphone app, which you can use to access firmware updates.
It is also advised to disable remote network access to certain devices, such as NAS drives, unless the device supports encrypted connections (such as SSH or HTTPS).
Lastly, change the default password on your wi-fi router.
Note: Simply turning equipment off, then back on, will not remove VPNFilter.