As if you didn’t already have enough to worry about, a new report finds hackers are targeting home Wi-Fi routers to gain access to all your connected devices.
The report comes from Black Lotus Lab, a security division of Lumen Technologies. The report details several observed real-world attacks on small home/home office (SOHO) routers since 2020 when millions of people began working from home at the start of the COVID 19 pandemic.
According to Black Lotus Lab, the attackers use Remote Access Trojans (RATs) to hijack a home’s router. The trojans use a new malware strain called zuoRAT to gain access and then deploy inside the router. Once deployed, the RATs allow attackers to upload and download files to all the connected devices on the home or office network.
“The rapid shift to remote work in spring of 2020 presented a fresh opportunity for threat actors to subvert traditional defense-in-depth protections by targeting the weakest points of the new network perimeter — small office/home office (SOHO) routers.” Lumen Technologies said in a blog post. “Actors can leverage SOHO router access to maintain a low-detection presence on the target network.”
ZuoRAT is resistant to attempts to sandbox it for further study. It attempts to contact several public servers when it first deploys. If it doesn’t receive any response, it assumes it has been sandboxed and deletes itself.
The malware is incredibly sophisticated, and Lumen Technologies believes it may originate from a nation-state actor, not rogue hackers. This means a government with a lot of resources could be targeting SOHO routers in North America and Europe.
ZuoRAT gains remote access to SOHO routers. It is constantly scanning networks for vulnerable routers and attacks if one is located.
Once the trojans are in, there’s no limit to the damage they can do. So far, they’ve been content with stealing data — personal identifiable information (PII), financial information, and normally secure business or corporate information. However, the ability is there for threat actors to deploy other malware once they’ve gained access.
Blue Lotus Lab was able to trace one of the zuoRAT viruses to servers in China. Other than that, little is known about the origins of the malware.
Most common household routers seem to be vulnerable, including Cisco, Netgear, and ASUS. The best way to protect against a zuoRAT infection is to regularly reboot your home router. The virus cannot survive a reboot, which wipes the router and restores it to its factory settings.