Can wireless routers go bad or get viruses?

Do wireless routers “go bad”? Or can routers get viruses? These are questions that are mostly by an internet user in distress. In most instances, they occur when we get problems with internet connections for some time. There are signs that we can use to know that your router has some problems.

The problems with routers can happen to a router provided by your internet service provider or one that you own. The routers connections may experience the following common problems:

There are ways to find out if your router has gone bad or is infected by viruses. We will explore these ways on a step-by-step basis in order to get to the root course of your problems.

Symptoms that your wireless router has gone bad

  • The slow performance or lack of connection: When a router or modem router has moved from downloading the same piece of data in 5 minutes to 1 hour without the addition of several devices in your home, is the bad router and modem symptoms.
  • Age of the router: With age, most routers go ‘bad’. This may be caused by normal wear and tear, lack of firmware update, or overheating. It is great to check if the router is overheating and probably moving it to a place with better airflow.
  • Colored indicator lights: Blinking of the indicator lights is mainly normal in many routers. However, a change in color may be a bad router and modem symptoms. Mostly the color changes to amber or red which alerts you of a problem with the router. Check the manual for what the color means and how to solve the problem.

How to tell if a router is bad and solve the issues

1. Check the simple things that can make you lose your connection

One of the main reasons why people think that their router has “gone bad” or has been infected by viruses is when they can’t access the internet. Is this the reason why you think that your router has gone bad? If Yes, let us check the simple solutions:

  • Are all the other devices connected to the internet? If other devices are connected then the problem is not with the router but your device. If all the devices are not connected, then continue troubleshooting the problem.
  • Check the simple things on your router: Is the power cable plugged into the main supply? Is the power light on your router on? These two issues may resolve the connection problem instantly.
  • Are the indicator light on your router showing that the router is working? These lights mainly blink when the router is functioning normally in most routers.
  • Is the router connected to the modem? You can check this by looking at the modem connection port status light.
  • If you are using an Ethernet port for connecting your devices: Is the status light for the Ethernet port where a device is connected?
  • Is your router generating more heat than normal? If yes, this may indicate that the router has a problem. Is your router making more than the standard amount of noise? If yes, there may be a problem.

2. Do the easy troubleshooting steps

If the steps above can not solve your connection problems, we recommend that you start the easy troubleshooting steps.

These easy troubleshooting steps that you can use to solve the connection problems or to check if your router has gone bad. You can apply the following steps:

  • Check if the router is passing the IP address to your devices: A properly functioning router is able to pass traffic to your devices. You can check this by opening a command window on your computer and then running the ‘ipconfig’ or ‘ifconfig’ on your Windows or Mac/ Linux powered device. If there is an IP address on your device, the router is probably ok.
  • Ping the IP address: If you ping it yourself and it is successful then your computer’s networking components are working properly. If not then it is not a problem with the router but with your computer’s networking systems.
  • Get and ping another device’s IP address: Repeat the process used for the first device and check if it works. If it works then the router is passing the traffic as required.
  • If by these steps you find that the router seems to be functioning okay but you cannot access the internet, reboot the modem or ask for assistance from your internet service provider.

3. Bypassing the router

To test if the router has a problem, connect your device directly to the modem. To do this, use the cable that connects the router and the modem.

Kindly unplug the cable from the WAN/ Internet port on your router and connect to the Ethernet port on your computer. This may give you an internet connection or not.

If you can connect to the internet by doing this, then the router is the problem. If not then it means that you have a problem with the modem, the Ethernet cable, or the ISP connection.

However, if the ISP uses static IP addressing or PPPoE, this process may not be as simple as unplugging the cable on your router and plugging it on your computer. You may need to carry out some additional steps to check the connectivity.

4. Additional troubleshooting of the router

If you find out that the router is bad from the steps above, you may decide to get another router or explore additional recovery procedures for your router.

Resetting the router to default settings

The easiest way to try and get your router to work is to reset the router to factory (default) settings. This will help you to try and reconfigure the router and set new configuration settings.

To restore the router to the default/factory settings, press the rest button that is available at the back of most routers. Press and hold the button for at least 40 seconds or until the reset is done according to the manufacturer’s specifications.

Use of console cable

There are some routers that have a console port where the console cable can be used to access the pre-boot or loading environment. In other routers, you need to open up the casing to access the console port.

The console port is not available in all routers. Thus check with the brand specifications to confirm if your router has this port. Before buying the console cable, kindly confirm that your router has the port.

Using this process will help and fix the router that is not booting.

Flashing the router

This should be the last resort if the factory reset doesn’t work. This means trying to reload your router’s firmware. This works for software problems but not for hardware problems. However, even in case of hardware problems where the router is broken, there is no harm in trying to flash the router.

If you feel like the software of your device has been tinkered with, try flashing the router. The process for flashing the router is given by the manufacturer of the router.

You can check the flashing process online. The process involves reloading the new firmware from a file on the computer. The file is loaded to the router using a TFTP or a special cable.

You can flash the router even with OpenWRT firmware, DD-WRT firmware, or Tomato firmware if it is compatible. You can check the compatibility by clicking the links on the different firmware.

Can routers get viruses?

Yes, routers can get viruses. The router is made in a computer-like design thus making them vulnerable to viruses.

The router can get viruses that can modify the firmware by malware or hackers who get through the initial login screen. One of the main reasons why a router can get infected is when you do not change the default administrator login details.

An infected router is not useless. You can repair the infected router and ensure that you protect the router from any other attack in the future.

In most instances, the router is infected by Switcher Trojan viruses or VPNFilter viruses among other viruses on the internet.

The Switcher Trojan infects the router from an infected smartphone, personal computer, and other devices. The Trojan if it infects your router can be used by the virus maker to steal personal information like bank account details, credit card details, and other payment details like Paypal or Payoneer.

The VPNFilter can also infect the router from an infected smartphone or personal computer. Once infected the VPNFilter can be used to install additional malware to the router. This then can be used to collect sensitive personal information.

How do you know if your router has a virus?

There are several ways that you can use to suspect your router is infected by a virus. The following are a few examples of suspicious behaviors that can be utilized:

  • Your router may be infected if secure websites like bank sites, Paypal, Payoneer, among others do not display the lock icon just before the URL.
  • When you scan and clean your devices like computers, laptops, and mobile phones you may get a ransomware pop-up window. This window might be demanding for payment failure to which your information will be leaked or destroyed.
  • If your router gives a reduced performance as compared to previous times with no meaningful addition of devices. The malware may overwork the CPU thus reducing the performance.
  • Redirection to suspicious websites when you try browsing the normal websites or searching for anything on the internet. The site might even be a copycat of the real site but with suspicious activities.

In case you get such suspicious activities, you can scan your router using online tools. Your choice of tool should be from a trusted and known source to ensure that you do not infect the router while thinking that you are correcting the situation. One of the most trusted tools is F-Secure. You may also decide to check if your router is infected with VPNFilter Trojan with Symantec scan.

Can routers get viruses? Check your router using F-Secure Router Checker!

What do I do in case my router is infected by viruses?

After carrying out the scans above, you may find that your router has viruses. You can remedy the situation by following the steps below:

  1. Reset the router to default settings: Resetting the router involves pressing the reset button on your router. Rebooting the router does not remove the viruses. Press the button with a sharp object and hold it for a few seconds until it resets. You can also use the manufacturer’s manual to guide the process. Note that this action deletes all the set settings on your router.
  2. Firmware update: Use the manufacturer’s recommended way to update the firmware. The latest firmware from any manufacturer has extensive detection and prevention of malware.
  3. Change the login details: It is important to change the administrator password for your router to prevent reinfection with viruses. Ensure that the password is a bit complex.
  4. Ensure that all the connected devices are free from viruses: To prevent reinfection, kindly scan and clear all viruses from any device that is connected to your router. This can be done by conducting a full antivirus scan on your devices.

In a nutshell

Your routers can get infected by viruses or go bad. However, you need to conduct some checks before coming to the conclusion that your router is infected.

Always go for the best router with constant firmware updates and those that are easy to update.

Some of the easy ways to keep viruses away from your router are by changing the administrator password and ensuring the connected devices are clean of any viruses.

To ensure that your router does not go bad, always check for overheating. If it is occurring, ensure that the router is getting a clean flow of air.