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How to protect yourself from the Netgear router hack

Two newly discovered vulnerabilities may put your network at risk. Here's what you need to know and how you can protect yourself.

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Dong Ngo/CNET

Do you own a Netgear router? Today you might be experiencing a little Netfear. According to a new report from a Trustwave researcher, some 31 router models may be affected by vulnerabilities that would allow hackers to bypass authentication -- effectively gaining access to your network.

Although the vulnerabilities exist only when a router feature that's off by default has been enabled, report author Simon Kenin believes the number of affected devices could be in the hundreds of thousands, and possibly over 1 million.

Kenin also notes, however, that the two exploits in question were discovered as far back as 2014. That hackers apparently haven't leveraged it suggests the situation may not be quite so dire.

A Netgear bulletin clarifies: "This vulnerability [only] occurs when an attacker can access the internal network or when remote management is enabled on the router. Remote management is turned off by default; users can turn on remote management through advanced settings."

Even if you've never touched your router's settings, better safe than sorry. Netgear has issued exploit-patching firmware updates for 19 routers and one cable modem. For eight other routers and four DSL gateways, the company suggests manually enabling the password-recovery feature and disabling remote management.

The steps for doing both may vary depending on your model, so check the user manual or Netgear's support page for specific instructions.