Business-class routers are critical network infrastructure components that connect multiple devices, computers, and servers and provide a gateway to the Internet. These routers offer advanced features such as VPN connectivity, traffic shaping, and enterprise-level security capabilities. However, as with any technology, business-class enterprise routers are not immune to cybersecurity risks. In this article, we will explore the data security risks associated with these types of routers and provide ways to mitigate those risks.
Enterprise routers are susceptible to several cybersecurity risks, including the following:
- Unauthorized Access – Attackers can exploit vulnerabilities in the router firmware or configuration to gain unauthorized access to the network, steal sensitive data, or launch further attacks.
- Denial of Service (DoS) Attacks – Attackers can flood the router with a high volume of traffic, causing it to crash and disrupt network operations.
- Malware and Botnets – Attackers can use malware and botnets to take control of the router, steal data, and launch further attacks.
- Data Leaks – Attackers can intercept and eavesdrop on network traffic, stealing sensitive data such as passwords, credit card numbers, and confidential business information.
- IoT Attacks – The growing number of IoT (Internet of Things) devices connected to enterprise networks can provide a gateway for attackers to exploit vulnerabilities and gain access to the network.
In fact, there have been several high-profile router attacks in recent years:
The Mirai Botnet Attack: In 2016, the Mirai botnet attacked the DNS provider Dyn, using hijacked IoT devices, including routers, to generate a massive DDoS attack that disrupted the Internet for millions of users. The attack impacted companies that rely on the Internet for their business operations, including Dyn’s clients, such as Amazon, Twitter, and Netflix.
The VPNFilter Malware Attack: In 2018, a sophisticated malware called VPNFilter infected over 500,000 routers worldwide, primarily targeting small and medium-sized businesses. The malware allowed attackers to steal sensitive data, such as login credentials and financial information, and potentially launch further attacks.
Router Firmware Malware Attack: In 2021, researchers at FireEye discovered a new type of malware that targets router firmware. The malware, called Mēris, was able to infect routers running a variety of firmware types and brands. Once installed, the malware allowed attackers to steal sensitive data, modify router settings, and launch further attacks.
These recent examples highlight the ongoing threat of router attacks and the significant financial losses, including the cost of remediation, lost productivity, and damage to reputation.
Cybersecurity attacks are not the only data security risks to be worried about.
End-of-life enterprise routers or routers not connected to a network or the internet may still face data security risks. These risks include:
Physical Access: If an unauthorized individual gains physical access to the unplugged router, they may be able to access any data that is stored on it or modify its configuration. This can include sensitive data such as passwords, network settings, or other confidential information.
Firmware Vulnerabilities: Routers that are not connected to the internet may not receive firmware updates or security patches, leaving them vulnerable to known or unknown vulnerabilities. If the router is later connected to the network or internet, these vulnerabilities can be exploited to gain unauthorized access.
Data Leakage: Even if a router is unplugged, it may still contain sensitive data, such as configuration files, logs, or other system information. If the router is stolen or otherwise compromised, this data can be accessed by an attacker.
Obsolescence: As technology advances, older routers become less secure and more susceptible to attacks. This is because new security threats are constantly emerging, and older routers may not have the necessary hardware or software to protect against them.
Limited Support: End-of-life routers may also have limited support from the manufacturer. This means that if there are any issues or vulnerabilities discovered, the manufacturer may not provide assistance or guidance in resolving them.
Lack of Compatibility
Lack of Compatibility: Newer security protocols and standards may not be compatible with older routers, leaving them vulnerable to attacks that exploit these protocols.
Overall, while unplugged enterprise routers may face fewer data security risks compared to routers that are connected to the network or internet, they are not entirely secure. It is important to properly secure and store these routers to minimize the risk of physical access and decommission obsolete data-baring assets.
Mitigating the Risks
Attacks on routers can compromise the security of sensitive data, resulting in potential legal liabilities and regulatory fines. It underscores the importance of implementing strong data security policies and promptly addressing vulnerabilities in network devices.
To mitigate the cybersecurity risks associated with enterprise routers, businesses should consider the following measures:
- Keep Firmware Updated – Regularly update the router firmware to patch any known vulnerabilities and improve security.
- Strong Passwords – Use strong, complex passwords for router access, and change them frequently.
- Access Control – Implementing access controls, such as using strong passwords, Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA), and role-based access control, can prevent unauthorized access to these devices and sensitive data.
- Network Segmentation – Segment the network to prevent the spread of malware and limit the damage of a potential breach.
- VPN Connectivity – Use VPN connectivity to secure remote access to the network and protect sensitive data.
- Intrusion Detection and Prevention – Implement intrusion detection and prevention systems to monitor network traffic and detect and prevent attacks.
- Firewalls – Use firewalls to block unauthorized access to the network and filter out malicious traffic.
- Regular Security Audits – Conduct regular security audits to identify vulnerabilities and ensure compliance with industry standards and best practices.
Data loss prevention
By implementing these defenses, businesses can reduce the risk of data loss resulting from cybersecurity incidents and protect critical business and client information.
- Regular Data Backups: Regularly backing up critical data is an essential measure to prevent data loss. In the event of a cybersecurity incident, having a recent backup of critical data can minimize the impact of the attack.
- Data Encryption: Encrypting data can prevent unauthorized access and make it more difficult for attackers to steal sensitive information in transit.
- Incident Response Plan: Having an incident response plan in place can help minimize the impact of a cybersecurity incident by enabling a quick and effective response.
- Training and Awareness: Educating employees on cybersecurity best practices and raising awareness of the risks can help prevent incidents resulting from human error, such as phishing attacks.
Enterprise routers are critical components of network infrastructure that provide advanced security features and connectivity options. However, they are not immune to cybersecurity risks, and businesses must take steps to mitigate those risks. By implementing measures such as those listed above, businesses can secure their network and protect sensitive data.
Working with a certified IT Asset Disposition service provider
Once decommissioned, businesses should consult with an IT Asset Disposition (ITAD) specialist to ensure that the device is securely wiped of all credentials and access information, rendering data completely inaccessible and preventing unauthorized access to your networks.
Sipi Asset Recovery’s trained and vetted technicians perform decommissioning processes on-site or at our dedicated facilities, including audits and equipment preparation for disposition.
- Assess the current router’s condition and performance, as well as any security risks associated with it. This includes evaluating the router’s age, hardware specifications, firmware version, and any known vulnerabilities or issues. The assessment will determine if the router can be remarketed or is at the end of its useful life.
- Securely erase all data.
- Dispose of the router in an environmentally friendly manner. This involves the physical destruction and recycling of the router.
- Packing and shipping the equipment to a Sipi processing facility specializing in the remarketing of electronic equipment.
The decommissioning process is documented and made available online through our customer portal or API interface.
Contact us to discuss a secure decommissioning process for your enterprise routers.