I know that it's theoretically possible that a router can be hacked, and malware can be spread throughout a network merely by being connected to it.

However, I'm wondering what exactly the chances of this is, since, we never really hear about it often.

For example, universities share connections with hundreds of students, and not to be stereotypical, they are likely downloading all sorts of content that isn't deemed safe (verifying, torrenting etc).

So, let's say an infected device was connected to my home network. What's the chances of that particular device infected my network, and therefore infecting other devices on the network?

Here are my thoughts;

  • attacker would first need to compromise the router

  • attacker, if successful in compromising the router, would then need to know a zero-day attack to infect other devices

that's the only way they would be able to right? ignoring DNS poisoning.

  • 1
    You are mixing up a few concepts. An infected router is different from an infected endpoint, so your university note seems strange. And universities have enterprise-grade routers, so the comparison to home networks doesn't work, either. You start off talking about the router getting compromised and then the rest of the network, but you then talk about endpoints getting compromised first. Second, why would a "zero-day" need to be used? Can you clarify?
    – schroeder
    Feb 16, 2022 at 19:17
  • It may not be as uncommon as you think. Many consumer-grade routers have default admin passwords that have never been changed, and are well known. Although the admin interfaces on these routers are usually not accessible from the WAN side, in most cases they can be accessed from the LAN side. See security.stackexchange.com/questions/221658/… for some interesting reading on how an attacker can circumvent SOP to compromise a router in this case from the LAN side.
    – mti2935
    Feb 16, 2022 at 19:33
  • 1
    @mti2935 or we could simply mention the Mirai botnet ...
    – schroeder
    Feb 16, 2022 at 20:16
  • @schroeder, yes, indeed.
    – mti2935
    Feb 16, 2022 at 20:17
  • I'll try and tackle one issue at a time. Regarding the zero day exploit, I thought that if other devices are up to date, you would therefore need to compromise that system with a method that isn't know, otherwise it would be patched. So let's say an attack did compromise your router, they would still need to compromise each device to infect it. I'm assuming for a router to be compromised via malware, it would either need to be remotely hacked or a infected device connects and spreads that malware across the network, but to do that they have to evade the other devices security updates. Feb 17, 2022 at 1:00

1 Answer 1


You're correct in your assumptions.

Yes, a router which is compromised doesn't pose a threat in itself unless we are talking about DNS poisoning. To compromise further devices on the net you need to attack their listening network ports and by default it's no easy feat as e.g. Windows 10/11 by default have pretty much all of their ports closed even on LAN, Linux by default listens/opens only port 22 which is sshd and there are literally millions of such servers on the net, so you can bet sshd is quite a reliable piece of software with no known vulnerabilities.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .