Tag Archives: FlashRouters FAQ

Best VPN & Privacy Articles of 2018: 2018 FlashRouters Recap

2018 was another monumental year for cyber-security. Here at the FlashRouters blog, we covered trends in privacy, security, and worldwide tech news. Curious how the world of routers developed over 2018? Here are the best FlashRouters posts of 2018.

Best FlashRouters Posts of 2018: Privacy

Privacy featured heavily in our stories this year. Accordingly, we’ve compiled a list of some of our best FlashRouters Privacy posts in 2018.

ISO vs. NSA

In May, we covered the International Standards Organization’s battle against the National Security Agency. Providing security for citizens against snooping government agencies is one of FlashRouters’ chief concerns. The NSA is no exception.

In 2013, whistleblower Edward Snowden revealed the corruption internal to the National Security Agency. Through his research, we learned the NSA sabotaged the National Institution for Standards and Technology’s cryptographic standards. This sabotaging of security standards has effectively nullified and discredited the institution.

This time around, the NSA would like their cryptographic algorithms “Simon” and “Speck” to serve as the standard for all IoT devices. While the NSA firmly maintains that these algorithms are secure, and are made to require little processing power, many ISO members did not believe these claims.

The International Standards Organization, to its credit, has rejected this request for three years. Further, as this action reveals, the ISO shows no signs of acquiescing to the NSA.

Firmware Vulnerabilities

In June, we wrote on a topic dear to our hearts: firmware vulnerabilities, specifically factory firmware vulnerabilities. FlashRouters “flashes” routers with Open Source firmware. This process removes the vulnerabilities found in factory firmware.

With this in mind, it is important to understand just how flawed factory firmware is. In June 2018, Insignary, a firm that runs binary-level code scanning, brought to light the fact that most wireless vendors have yet to patch old firmware vulnerabilities.

These vulnerabilities include the key re-installation attack known as KRACK, the Denial of Service attacks FFmpeg and OpenSSL, and a remote code execution attack called Samba. In other words, using a router with factory firmware opens the door to these attacks. An Open Source FlashRouter, on the other hand, like the Netgear R7800, voids these vulnerabilities.

Router manufacturers rarely support and update routers after the first two years. Conversely, the communities behind Open Source firmware are consistently repairing router flaws.

Amazon Alexa Privacy Concerns

In December, we expressed our concerns about Amazon Alexa.

Amazon Echo and its voice-controlled intelligent personal assistant service, Alexa, is presently the most highly-rated smart speaker system on the market.

Many Alexa users believe the device is recording every word it hears. This is not the case, as in fact Alexa is set to be on the lookout for a wake word. However, without the security of a Virtual Private Network from an Open Source router, the Amazon Echo is vulnerable to attacks from hackers.

Even if a hacker were to access only voice commands, this would still be a serious cause for concern. Thankfully, a FlashRouter is able to provide remedy for this issue.

Best FlashRouters Posts of 2018: Hacks and Attacks

Secure Your Routers From Rusian Malware VPNFIlter

Hacks and attacks also featured heavily in our stories this year. To that end, we’ve compiled a list of some of our best FlashRouters Hacks and Attacks posts in 2018.

VPNFilter Attack

In May, the Russian malware bug known as VPNFilter came to our attention. VPNFilter infected at least 500,000 devices in at least 54 countries.

This is a particularly dangerous bug. VPNFilter can delete itself and render infected routers inoperable. Additionally, VPNFilter may be used to incorporate infected routers into a botnet to be used in a Distributed-Denial-of-Service attack.

Thankfully, flashing your router with Open Source firmware can prevent this vulnerability.

Xfinity and Reddit Hacks and Bugs

In June, security researchers discovered the Xfinity router activation website was leaking sensitive information. This leak allows would-be hackers to easily obtain Comcast customers’ SSIDs and passwords. With this information, a hacker has unauthorized access to routers, exposing unencrypted traffic on customer’s wireless networks.

In August, we revealed how attackers hacked Reddit. By intercepting two-factor authentication from Reddit employees’ phones, hackers were able to access their accounts.  This enabled the attackers to gain read-only access to backup data, source code, and other logs. Some of these logs included all Reddit data prior to 2007, including user e-mails, private messages, and internal files.

In both of these cases, we recommended a number of security steps to take to ensure privacy against hackers. However, more than anything, we recommend taking advantage of a VPN service.

Best FlashRouters Posts of 2018: VPN Bans Around The World

best posts 2018

The use of VPNs once again came up as an important issue. Countries and businesses alike have banned or severely restricted VPNs.

Countries Taking Actions Against VPNs

2018 brought us VPN bans in Russia as well as in Turkey. As draconian governments continue to infringe on the privacy of individuals, it is more than likely that more countries will follow suit in 2019.

One way to get around VPN bans is to purchase a pre-configured FlashRouter. Supplying the FlashRouter Support Team with your VPN username and password will allow the device to show up at your door plug and play. Also, if the country you are in has blocked access to VPN sites, bringing a pre-configured FlashRouter over the border will allow unlimited Internet access.

Streaming Services Blocking VPNs

Draconian governments are not the only actors looking to stop VPN use. Streaming services, abiding by copyright law, are looking to do the same.

2018 saw an uptick in the list of streaming services blocking VPN traffic. Netflix, Hulu, Sling TV, HBO Now, Amazon Prime Video, YouTube TV, and Google Play all blocked traffic from VPN servers during the year.

This does not mean all hope is lost. In fact, some of our most trusted VPN providers, ExpressVPN and NordVPN, are working around the clock to provide working servers for these services.

Best FlashRouters Posts of 2018: The FlashRouters Privacy App

2018 also saw the introduction of the FlashRouters Privacy App.

The Privacy App expands VPN compatibility to all wireless and wired devices, including those without native VPN support. With the FlashRouters Privacy App sorting and managing devices is simple, even as more devices connect to the VPN network.

The FlashRouters Privacy App also includes simple server switching and a by-device VPN kill switch.

To view the full list of features, just visit our FlashRouters Privacy App Page.

Have questions about our App? Curious about router news in 2019? Send us a message.

How Does A VPN Work & Why Do I Need One? (FlashRouters FAQ)

How Does A VPN Work?

Now that we have moved even further into the age of the Internet, protecting your privacy online has never been a bigger issue. There are a few options to protect yourself online, but your best bet is definitely using a Virtual Private Network.

A virtual private network, or VPN for short, provides security and flexibility for Internet users. So how does a VPN work? Why would you need one? Read on to find out!

How Does A VPN Work?

A VPN is a service that lets you encrypt your Internet connection and circumvent various restrictions while keeping your information secure.

This is done by routing your Internet connection and data to a secure VPN server, typically located in a different country. This allows your computer to appear as if it was virtually in any country, effectively preventing geo-blocking.

After your Internet connection reaches the VPN server, the VPN server then directs your connection to the website or service you’re trying to access. These websites and services only see your VPN connection rather than your personal home connection.

Recommended VPN providers include IPVanish, ExpressVPN, and NordVPN.

Why Do You Need A VPN?

In this day and age, a VPN is a must for both protecting your privacy and accessing streaming video content. It is necessary to protect yourself as well as your home network from snooping governments, potential hackers, and data breaches.

With a VPN secured wireless connection, you can:

1. Protect and encrypt your Internet connection

A VPN service effectively protects all your data because it routes your Internet connection to a secure VPN server before ever reaching the Internet. No one will be able to see your online data or personal information, whether it be a website, service, or even your ISP.

2. Get around restrictive laws and regulations

Around the world, governments are cracking down on our Internet freedoms. Countries such as Russia and China are starting to censor Internet users, making a VPN an ideal choice to access what you need without governmental restriction.

3. Access and watch geo-blocked content online

Streaming service providers such as Netflix, Hulu, and even YouTube have put geo-blocks on some of their content. For example, this prevents a user in Indonesia from accessing content available on United States Netflix. If this user were to connect to a United States VPN server, they would be able to access United States Netflix content.

Using A VPN FlashRouter

A VPN FlashRouter supercharges your home router with the use of open-source firmware, such as DD-WRT. A DD-WRT FlashRouter upgrades standard router firmware with features such as:

  • Bug fixes and security patches
  • Improved network stability
  • Increased wireless strength
  • And of course, VPN service support

Running a VPN on the FlashRouter allows for any device to have VPN encryption. This enables any wired or wireless device to connect to a VPN service even if it does not have native VPN support.

Linksys
Linksys WRT3200ACM AC3200 R7000 NighthawkLinksys WRT1900ACS/AC v2 AC1900
Wireless-AC3200 Mbps
1.8 GHz Marvell Processor
4 Ext Antennas
Top Gaming Router
Wireless-AC1900 Mbps
1 Ghz Broadcom Processor
3 Ext Antennas
One of our Most-Popular Routers
Wireless-AC1900 Mbps
1.6 GHz Marvell Processor
4 Ext Antennas
Use in Small-Medium Homes
$349.99$299.99$299.99

A FlashRouter also only counts as one of your limited connections to the VPN service, allowing for a virtually unlimited amount of connections to the VPN!

Additionally, all new FlashRouters now come included with the FlashRouters Privacy App, streamlining and perfecting your wireless network experience.

This new Privacy App allows for access to your configurations and settings via a nifty website that can be run straight from your Internet browser. With an optimized user interface, simplified device management, and easy VPN server switching, using a FlashRouter has never been easier.

Any questions or concerns? Contact our support team for more information!

Can My NBN Modem Router Be Flashed? (FlashRouters FAQ)

 

The NBN is the National Broadband Network in Australia. It is a national wholesale open-access data network project with both wired and radio communication components.

NBN customers are typically given an NBN modem router for their home network. Are NBN modem routers compatible with open-source firmware?

NBN Modem Router

What Exactly Is The NBN Network?

The NBN network is an upgrade to Australia’s existing phone and Internet infrastructure. This is will affect the majority of Australians because it impacts both landline phone and Internet services.

The network is being rolled out progressively across Australia with the goal to connect eight million homes and businesses by 2020.

This is being done because Australia’s existing copper network cannot keep up with the demands of the 21st century. The NBN network is designed to provide access to fast and reliable landline phone and Internet services no matter the area.

How Do I Get Onto The Australian NBN Network?

To ensure phone and Internet services continue working, customers will need to move them to the NBN network before they are switched off. Customers are not automatically connected to the new NBN network.

In order to connect, customers must contact their preferred phone or Internet provider to order a service over the NBN network.

Customers will then be moved over to the NBN network and provided with a new NBN modem router.

Can An NBN Modem Router Be Flashed With Open-Source Firmware?

The short answer is no, you cannot flash DD-WRT or Tomato onto an NBN modem router.

Open-source firmware is not compatible with NBN modem routers. These modem routers do not use Broadcom or Atheros chips, which means that drivers for these products are not publicly available.

Without the drivers being public, open source development teams cannot develop DD-WRT and Tomato builds that are compatible with NBN modem routers.

This is the same case as DSL modem router combos.

How Can I Use A VPN With My NBN Modem Router?

After the Dallas Buyer’s Club Fiasco in 2015, it is highly recommended that Australians use a VPN on their home network. For those of you who don’t know, this landmark case forces ISPs to hand over details of customers that have pirated movies.

The best option for customers looking to use a VPN with an NBN modem router is to use a  VPN-enabled FlashRouter alongside their NBN modem router.

This is achieved by adding a DD-WRT or Tomato FlashRouter to your home network setup as shown below in the FlashRouters Dual Router Setup.

Plug and Play VPN Router Privacy

Using A FlashRouter With An NBN Modem Router

With a Dual Router Setup, the NBN modem router will maintain a connection to your ISP. The NBN modem router will then pass that Internet connection to a DD-WRT or Tomato FlashRouter, creating a second network.

To use a VPN on your network, you simply need to enable the VPN on the FlashRouter. The second network will then be VPN protected, allowing all connected devices the same VPN encryption.

Check out some of our bestselling FlashRouters to protect your new NBN network today!

ac5300-front-900Nighthawk Netgear Secure VPN Router
Asus RT-AC5300 DD-WRTR7800 Nighthawk DD-WRTLinksys WRT1900AC v2 DD-WRT
Wireless-AC5300 Mbps
1.4 Ghz Broadcom Processor
8 Ext Antennas
Top Gaming Router
Wireless-AC2600 Mbps
1.7 Ghz Broadcom Processor
4 Ext Antennas
Prepares Your Network For All The Latest Devices
Wireless-AC1900 Mbps
1.6 GHz Marvell Processor
4 Ext Antennas
Use in Small-Medium Homes
$499.99$349.99$299.99

Any questions? Feel free to contact the FlashRouters support team!

How To Protect A Home Network From Packet Sniffers

What Are Packets?

When using the internet to send emails, access bank accounts, upload images, or even type in a URL, the data being sent is broken into pieces. These pieces, or packets, are sent from your computer to the receiving end. The receiving end could be another computer or a server.

These packets must travel through the Internet to their destination, which could leave the packets vulnerable to packet sniffers.

Wireshark Packet Sniffer Software Screenshot

What Is A Packet Sniffer?

A packet sniffer is also known as a packet or protocol analyzer. Furthermore, this tool works by intercepting and logging the traffic between two computers on a network. Additionally, a packet sniffer can be bought and used as an independent physical piece of hardware or used as software on a computer.

The software would use the device’s network card to monitor network traffic. A popular and open-source packet sniffer is Wireshark, which is typically used by security researchers as a penetration testing program.

How Does A Packet Sniffer Work?

For wired networks, a packet sniffer is able to have access to all or a portion of the traffic being transmitted depending on the configuration of the network switches.

For wireless networks, a packet sniffer is only able to scan one channel at a time. If the host device running the packet sniffer has multiple wireless network interfaces then it is possible to scan multiple channels.

Who Uses Packet Sniffers?

The original purpose of a packet sniffer was for administrative uses, such as penetration testing and monitoring the traffic on a network. Therefore, network admins utilize packet sniffers on a corporate network to run diagnostics and to troubleshoot problems.

Hackers now use packet sniffers to steal information and data from victims. Traffic is more susceptible to being seen and stolen when it is sent on an unencrypted network.

Sometimes, packet sniffers can be used with other tools and programs to intercept and manipulate packets. These manipulated packets can be used to deliver malware and malicious content.

Public wireless networks are especially susceptible to packet sniffing attacks, as they are usually unprotected and can be connected to by anyone.

Protecting Yourself From Packet Sniffers

Aside from refraining from using public networks, encryption is your best bet to protect yourself from potential packet sniffers. Using HTTPS, the secure version of HTTP, will prevent packet sniffers from seeing the traffic on the websites you are visiting.

To make sure you are using HTTPS, check the upper left corner of your browser.

One effective way to protect yourself from packet sniffers is to tunnel your connectivity a virtual private network, or a VPN.

A VPN encrypts the traffic being sent between your computer and the destination. This includes information being used on websites, services, and applications. A packet sniffer would only see encrypted data being sent to your VPN service provider.

Some of our customers’ preferred VPN providers include NordVPN and PrivateInternetAccess.

Using a Router To Prevent Packet Sniffers

Integrating a VPN on your entire home network is a good first step in the defense your home network’s traffic data from packet sniffers.

A premium router like the R7000 Nighthawk DD-WRT FlashRouter (pictured above) include VPN ready, custom upgrades. Top that off with on-demand plug and play configuration as well as expert US-based VPN & open-source tech support. Now that is a speedy solution on how you can quickly be ready to defend yourself from the invader known as packet sniffers.

What is DNSCrypt & How To Set It Up On A Router (FlashRouters FAQ)

Earlier this month, about one million Google users were hit by a phishing scam. These Google users granted permission to a seemingly real service called “Google Docs” to access their email account data. Moreover, granting permission to the nefariously named “Google Docs” (which had nothing to do with Google), users allowed hackers access to their personal information.

No doubt, phishing is best avoided by being skeptical of any random query for credentials. However, there are still ways hackers can leak your information for unwanted and invasive use.

Want to prevent this from happening to you? Taking advantage of a protocol like DNSCrypt will help. In any case, DNSCrypt authenticates and validates communication between a DNS client and a DNS resolver. Basically, using DNSCrypt helps to prevent DNS spoofing. But what are those? And what is DNS, even? Good questions.

What is DNS?

DNS stands for Domain Name System. The Domain Name System is a hierarchical decentralized naming system for devices and resources connected to the Internet. Furthermore, each device which connects to the Internet is given a specific Internet Protocol address. IP addresses display as a series of numbers. The Domain Name System serves as a phonebook, translating hostnames into IP addresses. For example, users trying to access Google type “www.google.com” into their web browsers, instead of the IP address 2001:4860:4860::8888. For more information on IP addresses, check out What is an IP Address.

What is a DNS Client?

From here on, we can move to DNS Clients. A DNS Client service resolves and caches hostnames. When a DNS Client service receives a request to resolve a hostname which is not in its cache, it queries an assigned DNS server for an IP address for the hostname. Here is where the DNS Resolver comes in. Then, once the DNS Client service receives the requested address from the DNS server, the DNS Resolver stores the name and address in the cache. Ultimately, this allows the DNS Client to resolve future requests without having to query the DNS server.

Furthermore, this process increases the efficiency of using a Domain Name System. Resolving and caching hostnames minimizes management time and allows for all of the clients on a network to have the same access.

How Does DNS Work in Routers?

Nighthawk Netgear Secure VPN Router

Within the firmware of most routers, there is an area marked DNS.

Furthermore, in the DNS area, users have the option to select specific DNS servers. Devices connected to the router can go through the VPN if they are setup for DHCP. For this reason, if a device is set up for DHCP it looks to the router for DNS server information. Currently, most devices are set up for DHCP.

What is DNSCrypt?

Now that we know the in’s and out’s of DNS, we can move to DNSCrypt. In layman’s terms, DNSCrypt is a protocol which improves DNS Security.

To put it in more technical terms, DNSCrypt turns regular DNS traffic into encrypted DNS traffic. Ultimately, this works by using cryptographic signatures to verify responses are coming from the chosen DNS Resolver.

In turn, DNSCrypt helps to prevent DNS Spoofing. DNS Spoofing is also known as DNS Cache Poisoning. Furthermore, DNS Spoofing is a form of computer hacking where corrupt DNS data is introduced into the DNS resolver’s cache. Therefore, this causes the name server to return an incorrect IP address. Finally, DNS Spoofing allows for traffic to be diverted to an attacker’s computer.

TOP REASONS TO USE DNSCRYPT ON A ROUTER

  • Guarding your network from phishing attempts
  • Configure a single setup to protect all your connections.
  • Preventing DNS Leaks and Cache Poisoning
  • Stopping man-in-the-middle attacks

How Can I Use DNSCrypt?

If you would like to use DNSCrypt, most OpenNIC protocols utilize it. You can also download it directly from OpenDNS. However, if you would like to use DNSCrypt on the router level to secure your entire network with one setup, simply use a DD-WRT or Tomato router.

DNSCrypt is not an option in your stock Asus, Netgear or Linksys firmware. DD-WRT and Tomato are open source router firmware and being of increased importance, DNSCrypt is now available n the DNS setting options of these firmwares.

To set up DNSCrypt on a Tomato or DD-WRT router, simply enable it in the DNS settings.

Setup DNSCrypt in TomatoUSB Firmware

Setup DNSCrypt in DD-WRT Routers Firmware

Important note: Using these settings combined with a VPN service may cause interference. For this reason, investigate any other important setups you use before activating DNSCrypt.

Best Routers For DNSCrypt

In any case, DD-WRT and Tomato routers are able to work with DNSCrypt out of the box. However, if you want a powerful performance from a router, you are going to need a powerful processor.

Top DD-WRT DNSCrypt Router

Meet The Netgear Nighthawk X4S R7800 DD-WRT FlashRouter - Holiday Gift Guide

Netgear Nighthawk X4S R7800

  • 1.7 GHz Dual Core Processor
  • MU-MIMO Support
  • QuadStream X4 Wireless Architecture
  •  Wireless-AC2600 Gigabit WiFi

Top Tomato DNSCrypt Router

Asus RT-AC3200 Tomato

  • Top Tomato Router
  • 6 External Antennas
  • 1 GHz Broadcom Processor

First and foremost, there is not a dramatic performance difference for most users between DD-WRT and Tomato. Still, some users prefer Tomato, as it has a more user-friendly interface. However, if one is interested in putting together a repeater setup, DD-WRT is recommended. Consequently, when bandwidth monitoring is a priority, Tomato offers a superior performance to DD-WRT.