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

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags wirelessNetworkingroutersonline 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

Cool Tech

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Stocking Stuffer

SmartLens - Clip on Phone Camera Lens Set of 3

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Aysha Strobbe

Microsoft Office 365/HP Spectre x360

Microsoft Office continues to make a student’s life that little bit easier by offering reliable, easy to use, time-saving functionality, while continuing to develop new features that further enhance what is already a formidable collection of applications

Michael Hargreaves

Microsoft Office 365/Dell XPS 15 2-in-1

I’d recommend a Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 and the new Windows 10 to anyone who needs to get serious work done (before you kick back on your couch with your favourite Netflix show.)

Maryellen Rose George

Brother PT-P750W

It’s useful for office tasks as well as pragmatic labelling of equipment and storage – just don’t get too excited and label everything in sight!

Cathy Giles

Brother MFC-L8900CDW

The Brother MFC-L8900CDW is an absolute stand out. I struggle to fault it.

Luke Hill

MSI GT75 TITAN

I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Featured Content

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?