Does Your Router Auto-Update? (it should...)
For the past few weeks, I've been writing a series on router security, and in this final installment I'll tell you what I think it the MOST important security feature that your router should have. “Self-updating” is the basement floor of my house of router standards. I can’t imagine Windows without self-updating, and keeping a router’s operating system patched is no less critical. Read on for my recommendations on secure, self-updating routers...
Best Security-Minded Home Routers
A complete discussion of router security should identify a number of secure routers by make and model. The routers mentioned here are not the only secure routers on the market, but they meet important standards for being considered more secure than the run-of-the-mill home router. If you’re not certain a router can update itself, ask; if you don’t get a straight answer, pass on that router.
I say self-updating is a deal maker or breaker knowing full well that a botched router update can make even the "smartest" device as dumb as a brick. That happened in August 2017, when smart lock maker, Locksafe, pushed the wrong update to its RemoteLock L6i devices; hundreds of the $470 locks lost the remote lock/unlock feature that prompted AirBnB to recommend it to hosts. Even worse, the locks could not be repaired remotely, but had to be mailed back and forth; until it was fixed, an L6i was just another deadbolt lock.
Router self-updating needs the ability to roll back a botched patch. But botched patches are rarer than router security vulnerabilities or attacks upon them, so I want self-updating. Let's take a brief tour of some good quality self-updating routers.
The Asus RT-AC5300 router (pictured above) might scare away hackers just with its intimidating design. It has an exceptional range and Asus AIProtection, a cloud-based router security service pioneered and operated by security firm Trend Micro.
Google Wi-Fi and its predecessor, OnHub, both self-update. For some reason, Google insists that these updates happen in the middle of the afternoon, which can be annoying when the router reboots. Thankfully, that doesn't happen often, and doesn't take long.
Google Wi-Fi is a mesh network router system. It is sold in bundles of 3 small devices that can be placed anywhere in a home, like sachets of potpourri. Each device automatically connects to others in its range, creating a resilient “mesh” of access points that can grow in any direction from its coverage surface and provide redundant paths from Point A to Point B.
Netgear’s Nighthawk AC1900 family of secure routers and cable modems are available in low-cost refurbished units as well as new ones starting at $145.
All models in the Linksys “Smart Wi-Fi” family of routers are self-updating. Generally, their model numbers begin with EA or WRT.
A Patch In Time Saves Bacon
Whatever router manufacturer you prefer, you should check to see how seriously it takes security. One way to do that is to visit the manufacturer’s web site and try to find evidence of past security issues. There should be at least 2-3 firmware updates - “patch kits,” really – per year. Likewise, security bulletins and whitepapers should be fresh, not a decade old.
Be prepared to spend more for security. Good programmers, prompt patches as vulnerabilities are discovered, and a mature, reliable self-updating routine are all essential today. Such things cost money, but they may save your bacon.
Your thoughts on this topic are welcome. Post your comment or question below...
This article was posted by Bob Rankin on 13 Jul 2018
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Article information: AskBobRankin -- Does Your Router Auto-Update? (it should...) (Posted: 13 Jul 2018)
Copyright © 2005 - Bob Rankin - All Rights Reserved