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Is Your Old Router Still Getting Security Updates?

Security researchers from Fortinet recently discovered security holes in some D-Link routers. Many of these routers are still sold online, but D-Link no longer manufactures them and won’t patch them. So how do you tell if your router is still supported?

Why Router Firmware Updates Are Important

Router updates are especially important. Your wireless router is generally the one device you connect directly to the internet. It functions as a firewall and protects all your other devices from incoming traffic thanks to network address translation (NAT.)

Security holes in routers can lead to them becoming infected by malware and joining a botnetDisabling remote access to your router is a critical security tip, as it shields your router’s administration interface from the internet. However, installing the latest security updates is vital.

Unfortunately, many routers don’t automatically install security updates and require manual security update installation. You can install them from the router’s web interface—or mobile app if the router offers an app.

Why Are Manufacturers So Bad With Updates?

A D-Link DIR-655 wireless router.
D-Link’s DIR-655 wireless router, which is no longer receiving security updates. D-Link

When a security hole is found—whether by security researchers or by criminals who want to infect your router and make it part of a botnet—you want your router to have security updates. But they aren’t always available.

Manufacturers aren’t forced to update routers forever—or for any particular amount of time. Many router manufacturers manufacture a large number of different router models. When a hole is found, it may take quite some effort to patch it in all the different routers, which run different firmware (software.)

Worse, many router manufacturers compete on price quite a bit. If people are buying the cheapest possible routers, the router manufacturer will have to cut corners somewhere to compete in the market. Long-term support is an easy place to cut—after all, how many people will buy a router because the manufacturer promises extended security updates, or avoid a router because the manufacturer has no established policy on it?

How to Check If Your Router Is Still Supported

Is your router still supported? The only way to tell for sure is to check your router manufacturer’s website. First, take a look at your router and note its manufacturer and model number so you can check if it appears on an end-of-life list.

  • Apple: Apple’s AirPort base stations still appear to be supported with firmware updates, although the company is no longer manufacturing them.
  • Asus: Review the end-of-life product list on Asus’s website. As the official websites put it, the router’s firmware “will not be updated” after it reaches end of life.
  • Cisco: Cisco lists a variety of end-of-life and end-of-sale products on its website.
  • D-Link: Consult the official list of legacy products on D-Link’s website. Routers on this list won’t receive security updates.
  • Netgear: Netgear doesn’t appear to have an end-of-life product list—yes, that’s pretty absurd. Here’s a third-party list that’s probably incomplete.
  • Linksys: Linksys offers a list of obsolete products. That’s just the first page—be sure to consult page 2 and page 3 of the list, too.
  • Google: Google’s WiFi routers are recent, and all appear supported with updates. However, Google seems to have given up on keeping an up-to-date list of firmware updates on its website.
  • Synology: Synology offers a product support status website listing its devices and what support they’re receiving.

If your manufacturer doesn’t appear on this list, check its website for an end-of-life product list or a list of supported devices. You could also find the official support page for your specific model of router and see if there’s information about support.

Is your router no longer supported? It’s time to replace it. Upgrade to a new router, and you’ll get faster WI-Fi and a more reliable connection on top of the security boost.

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