(FOX 13) - Practically every home or small business has an internet router, which means the new warning from FBI impacts almost everyone in the country. The agency says any one of the millions of wifi internet routers could be infected with sophisticated malware and the user would likely never even know it.
The attack has been linked to Russia and according to the federal government, hackers are targeting multiple brands of internet routers.
"Potentially anybody with an internet connection, whether it’s in the home or the business, could be impacted," said Luis Valdes, assistant director of technology and cybersecurity at the Florida Center for Cybersecurity.
He says the malicious software has been dubbed VPNFilter and the malware could be destructive.
"It is potentially a serious threat because of the ability that is given to the attacker with the control of a router," Valdes explained.
Officials report the malware can block web traffic, collect passwords and personal information, and possibly completely disable any devices using the internet.
Officials say it's a three-stage infection that is hard to catch.
"Your router is not like a computer where you have antivirus that can detect that type of malicious code entering the system,” said Horacio Maysonet, president and CEO of Cyber Security Solutions.
He says the best thing you can do to disrupt VPNFilter is to unplug your router and let it reboot. The FBI has taken steps so any attempts to re-infect a device will be bounced to an FBI server which will record and track the associated IP addresses.
For even more protection, Maysonet recommends setting a strong password for routers and download updates from the router manufacturer.
"Don’t just set it and forget it. That’s one of the worst things that you can do when it comes to your security,” he said. “In your house, TVs, thermostats, everything talks to the internet, so go to your router and you should always once a month download whatever the new software is."
There is a growing list of affected brands of routers, including Linksys, Netgear and TP-link.
Experts say if you bought the equipment, you should check with those manufactures for instructions on how to update the router's software.
Right now, the FBI says it's not clear how VPNFilter is getting on people's systems.