Default Router Password Worry Shouldn't Be an Issue, but Is

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This really should not be a problem for businesses with professional IT teams, but smaller businessesthat rely on telecommuters and home workers to configure their own remote networks should take note of recent warnings by Symantec and Cisco about a new threat to routers that use default administrative passwords.

The threat, dubbed drive-by pharming, essentially allows hackers to take control of a router's DNS and point an unwary user at a fake shopping or banking site, which of course gobbles up credit cards numbers and account passwords. Chaos ensues.

Routers with default passwords are, of course, most susceptible-- hence, "drive-by." A lengthy"response" from Cisco -- which rightfully doesn't suggest there's any real flaw in its products -- points out ways in which users might have failed to change those defaults, such as using command-line config as opposed to the Web client for some models.

However, PC World reports that researchers smartly suggested using a unique value, such as a serial number, instead of the most obvious "admin" as the default on equipment.

Of course, simply knowing that a security issue should be easy to avoid doesn't mean it's not serious. SearchSecurity.com reports this morning that as many as half of home broadband users don't reset the defaults on their routers.