FBI and your router

We’re updating…

I’m buried under a stack of emails from companies updating their privacy policies. I’d tell you more, but I have to stop what I’m doing and reboot my router before my bike ride.

Why am I getting so many Privacy Policy Emails all of a sudden?

It’s all about the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) that went into effect in Europe on May 25. 

This new digital privacy law will make it easier for people to understand what personal data companies are collecting and how they’re using that data.

If you’d like to read more about this, take a look at these posts from Vox and Cnet.

Two things to take away from this:

  • If you’re outside the EU, none of this applies to your data
  • Most people don’t read privacy policies

Have you ever read a Privacy Policy or Terms of Service document?

Why does the FBI want me to reboot my router? Is this a scam?

Our story so far: Russian malware, called VPNFilter, infected roughly half a million routers worldwide. The FBI seized the servers that were distributing the malware.

Rebooting the router will remove some of the malware. It will leave part of it, and that’s the part that tries to contact the server to reinstall the stuff that reboot flushed out.

Because the FBI now controls the servers, they can determine which routers are infected and contact the appropriate ISPs who should notify their users. There is currently no way for the end user to know if their router in infected.

You should reboot your router.

In general, it’s a simple as unplugging the power cord, counting to 30, plugging it in again and waiting a moment for everything to reconnect.

If you are doing this in a business environment, you need to contact your IT person before you just start rebooting things!

It would be safer for you, but contribute less to the greater good, to reset your router, taking it back to its factory settings, and then change the Administrator password and do a firmware upgrade. (Yes, I know that’s time-consuming and a hassle.)

If you don’t know how to do any of that (or even what I’m saying!) at least reboot it.

If you don’t know what to unplug, consult your router’s manual. (You probably won’t find it in your house, so look for a copy on the manufacturer’s website.)

If your router is provided by Shaw, Telus, or another ISP, consult them.

A more technical explanation is here. That article includes links to the FBI and US Department of Justice notices.

Why do I ride?

It’s just three weeks until Ride Don’t Hide. Here in Kelowna, the Payton and Dillon Budd Memorial Ride raises funds for mental-health programs and services, including suicide prevention, in our community.

I believe mental illness is an illness, not a character flaw. And I believe everyone should have access to the help we all need, without guilt or shame.

I’m happy to be involved in the ride, and so grateful to all of you who’ve contributed. We’ve raised $750 so far. Wouldn’t it be great if we could get to $1,000?

If you’d like to help, please sponsor me. Click here to make your secure online donation: https://goo.gl/WnnSd3. Thank you so much!

Cate Eales will retire June 29 from running Computer Care Kelowna, a mobile service helping home users and businesses get along with their computers. She welcomes your comments and suggestions for future column topics, good fishing spots, epic bike rides, and songs to learn on the ukulele.

Send email to [email protected].

This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.


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About the Author

The Technology Shaman, Cate Eales, has been helping people make online computing safe, accessible, and fun for over 30 years.

Cate lives in Kelowna with her husband, Eric. She owns and operates Computer Care Kelowna, a mobile computer business providing on-site service for home and small business customers.

Cate is here to help you and your home or business computer get along.

E-mail Cate at [email protected] with comments, suggestions, or questions.

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