Default settings leave external hard drives connected to Asus routers wide open

Private files can be accessed over the Internet by anyone with basic knowledge

Files on thousands of hard drives connected to broadband routers from Asus are easily accessible over the Internet due to unsecure default settings, according to industry experts and tests conducted by PC World Norway and TechWorld Sweden.

Broadband routers with USB ports that allow users to connect external hard drives have become increasingly common. Shared storage that can be remotely accessed via the Internet using protocols such as FTP is convenient, but it also comes with security implications.

If products aren't configured correctly, personal data can become accessible to anyone with basic technical knowledge, which is what has happened to owners of routers from Asus, reports PC World Norway.

The problem stems from how the routers are configured. Access to an external hard drive that's been attached to a router's USB port using FTP can be activated manually or by using a wizard, but both leave the router open by default.

The wizard lets users choose among three settings -- the default "limitless access rights and options for "limited access rights" and "admin rights" -- with little information about what each option means. Also, the "limited access rights" alternative includes an option that sets up a user called "Family" and proposes the password "family," instead of telling users to create their own passwords.

The problem affects users around the world, including those in the U.S.

"What really scares me is that this went past all forms of security checks that Asus has in place," said Anders Nilsson, IT security expert at Eurosecure.

Broadband router vendors that offer remote access functionality have to try to find a balance between making products that are easy to use and at the same time secure. Vendors should prioritize the latter, but obviously don't always do that, according to Nilsson.

After being questioned about the problem with its products, Asus decided to develop a firmware update that will be distributed globally make it clearer what the different choices in the interface mean, according to company spokesman Emanuel Järnland.

"The 'limited access rights' that require passwords will become the new default option. This will apply to both the built-in wizard and when the user chooses to set up FTP manually. Finally, the interface will also indicate whether you used the 'limitless access' rights previously," Järnland told TechWorld Sweden.

Send news tips and comments to mikael_ricknas@idg.com

Join the newsletter!

Or
Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection

Tags securitywirelessNetworkingroutersonline safetynetworking hardwareWLANs / Wi-FiAccess control and authenticationAsustek Computer

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Mikael Ricknäs

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Essentials

James Cook University - Master of Data Science Online Course

Learn more >

Mobile

Sansai 6-Outlet Power Board + 4-Port USB Charging Station

Learn more >

Exec

Budget

Back To Business Guide

Click for more ›

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Louise Coady

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

The printer was convenient, produced clear and vibrant images and was very easy to use

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Walid Mikhael

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?