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Can a Router Get a Virus?

We typically don’t pay much attention to our routers unless we forget our internet password or our neighbors change theirs, and even less so when it comes to router malware. This is largely because malicious software doesn’t commonly target networking devices.

However, when cybercriminals do develop router viruses, the consequences can be significant. Routers play a crucial role in directing our internet traffic and connecting all our devices, yet we often neglect to take the necessary precautions to safeguard them. This creates an ideal situation for exploitation.

To protect your router from malware, it’s advisable to be vigilant for typical symptoms of router viruses. And in the event of an infection, there are effective methods available to cleanse your compromised router.

Can a Router Get a Virus

Can a Router Get a Virus?


Can routers catch viruses? The simple answer is yes. A general rule of thumb is that if a router operates with an operating system (OS), it’s likely under threat from malicious software.

VPNFilter stands as a notorious example of router malware. Over a span of a couple of years, this virus managed to infiltrate around 500,000 devices across more than 50 countries. Its impact ranged from siphoning sensitive data such as website logins to coordinating intricate cyberattacks. What’s worse, it could even render routers completely non-functional.

To combat this menace, Cisco Talos publicly shared methods for detection, along with a list of blocked domains. They also collaborated with at least five major router manufacturers and worked closely with the Cyber Threat Alliance.

How Does a Router Get Virused?

it’s simpler than you might imagine. The most straightforward method to infiltrate a network is by using the router’s default login credentials. Shockingly, many individuals overlook changing their router’s password from the default setting, while others carelessly opt for easily guessable passwords like “password123”.

As per threat intelligence agencies, cybercriminals exploit vulnerabilities in router firmware. This was the avenue through which a recent malware strain spread, and unlike attacks targeting login credentials, there’s little one can do to prevent it.

Routers differ in their security measures. Some manufacturers regularly update their device firmware to patch known vulnerabilities and implement additional safety features. However, this isn’t universal practice. While a VPN router may incur a slightly higher cost, it provides foolproof protection for your entire network.

Router Virus Symptoms: How to Tell If Your Router Isn’t Well

Routers serve as the backbone of our internet connectivity, often operating seamlessly in the background, much like a dependable water supply system. Interestingly, experiencing the efficiency of Japan’s water management infrastructure is something I aspire to. Does that sound peculiar?

When a router or modem virus infiltrates your network, it disrupts the normal functioning of your devices. In water supply terms, this is akin to pipes leaking, valves malfunctioning, or water pressure fluctuating unexpectedly. Here’s how to identify if your router is infected:

  • Slower-than-usual internet speed: While various factors can contribute to slower internet speeds, it could also indicate a malware infection on your router.
  • Website redirection: Cybercriminals may manipulate your router to reroute internet traffic to compromised websites, aiming to either gather your personal data or distribute more sophisticated viruses.
  • Changes in DNS settings: Malicious parties can reroute all your internet traffic through their servers by altering your DNS settings, granting them unrestricted access to your online activities unless your traffic is encrypted.
  • Unwanted software/add-ons/toolbars: Viruses may force-install unfamiliar software or bloatware (programs consuming excessive resources) on your devices.
  • Bogus antivirus or antimalware alerts: False warnings masquerading as reputable sources often aim to persuade you to purchase supposed “enhanced protection”.

If you observe any of these signs, it’s advisable to thoroughly inspect your router and the connected devices for potential issues.

What Happens If a Router Is Hacked?

The mildest consequence of a hacked router might be if the perpetrator utilizes it to stream Netflix. However, hacked routers have also been exploited for accessing illicit content, cryptocurrency mining, orchestrating cyberattacks, and more.

Additional common risks associated with router or modem viruses involve the theft of personal data. Unless users employ additional safeguards, like a reliable VPN that encrypts their online activity, anyone utilizing the infected network is vulnerable and likely to become infected themselves.

For this reason, I recommend routinely scanning your router for malware and implementing any available precautions. Some of the most effective security measures don’t require any financial investment.

How to Scan a Router for Viruses

To start, you’ll want to have a reliable antivirus solution. Most antivirus programs offer network scanning options, and some even come with comprehensive network inspection features.

For a basic check on your router’s health, a quick network scan using your antivirus software could suffice.

However, if you’re genuinely concerned about router malware, I recommend performing a thorough system cleanup. This should include scanning any network drives, conducting a boot-time scan, and performing an explorer scan.

Keep in mind that these scans may take some time, and you’ll need to exercise patience, especially during Safe Mode operations. Nevertheless, thorough cleanup procedures are crucial because worms, trojans, and other forms of malware can potentially re-infect your network if not completely removed.

How to Remove Router Malware

What if the router virus scan fails to resolve the issue? Don’t panic. Stay composed and keep reading, as there’s an alternative manual method for removing router viruses that you can rely on. Antivirus scans may prove ineffective against firmware vulnerabilities, as much of the malicious software is designed to exploit such weaknesses.

In such scenarios, resorting to a factory reset becomes necessary. All modems and routers come equipped with a means of resetting the device to its factory settings, effectively wiping it clean. Before initiating the reset process, however, I advise consulting the user manual for detailed instructions.

The factory reset was among the recommended solutions for addressing VPNFilter, and it appears to be highly effective against many router threats. Similarly, if you’re unable to eliminate malware from your local machine, you can opt to “factory reset” your PC as well. However, this process is more intricate than simply pressing a button.

Protect Your Router Against Malware and Viruses

Here are a few simple steps you can take to safeguard your router against malware:

  • Update your password: A strong password acts as the first line of defense against various threats, such as man-in-the-middle attacks.
  • Keep the firmware up to date: While it’s less common for inexpensive routers to receive firmware updates, it’s not unheard of. Check the manufacturer’s website periodically for any available patches and follow the instructions to install them.
  • Regularly scan your router: Don’t wait until you notice symptoms of a router virus. Consistent scanning and maintenance are essential to proactively mitigate potential threats.
  • Consider hardware upgrades: If you haven’t already, consider upgrading to a router that supports VPN functionality. Adding a VPN to your router, in addition to a strong password, can provide an extra layer of security.
  • Use VPN for encryption: Using a VPN can help encrypt your online activity, protecting your data from cybercriminals and unauthorized access.
  • Check DNS settings: Take a moment to review your router’s DNS settings. Unless customized by your network administrator, the DNS should be set to dynamic to allow your ISP to manage it efficiently.


Can a Router Get a Virus?

Yes, routers can indeed catch viruses. If a router operates with an operating system (OS), it’s likely under threat from malicious software.

How Does a Router Get Virused?

Router vulnerabilities, particularly in firmware, are exploited by cybercriminals to infect routers. This can occur through default or weak passwords and unpatched firmware.

What Happens If a Router Is Hacked?

A hacked router can be used for various malicious activities, including accessing illicit content, cryptocurrency mining, and orchestrating cyberattacks. Additionally, personal data theft is a common risk.

How to Scan a Router for Viruses?

Utilize a reliable antivirus solution to perform network scans and inspect your router’s health. Consider performing a thorough system cleanup if you suspect router malware.

How to Remove Router Malware?

If antivirus scans fail, resort to a factory reset to wipe the router clean. Refer to the user manual for detailed instructions. This process can effectively remove various router threats.

How Can I Protect My Router Against Malware and Viruses?

Strengthen your router’s password, keep the firmware updated, and regularly scan for malware. Consider hardware upgrades to a VPN-compatible router for enhanced security. Additionally, use a VPN for encryption and ensure DNS settings are configured appropriately.


While routers may appear unassuming, they are vulnerable to malware and viruses. By updating passwords, firmware, and conducting regular scans, users can mitigate these risks. Considering hardware upgrades to VPN-compatible routers and using VPNs for encryption adds further protection. By staying vigilant and taking these precautions, individuals can safeguard their routers and ensure a safer online experience.


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