How to Stop a DSL Modem From Being Hacked

By Elizabeth Smith

DSL modems are relatively secure when configured properly.
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A hacked DSL modem can result in a wide range of problems, from stolen personal information to computers infected with viruses. Many of the vulnerabilities of a standard DSL modem are related to its default settings; because users don't bother to change the settings after the initial installation, hackers have an easy way in. By adjusting your modem settings and staying on top of security, you can protect your network and your personal data.

Accessing Modem Configuration

Almost all DSL modem protection methods require that you access your modem configuration screen. To do so, you need your modem's IP address, which can often be found printed on the bottom of the device. Alternatively, you can search for "command prompt" in Windows 8 and click on the "Command Prompt" option under "Apps" in the search results. Enter "ipconfig" into the prompt field. In the resulting screen, your IP address is listed as the default gateway. Type the IP address into a Web browser, press "Enter" and type in your username and password. If you don't remember them, try the default login credentials listed in the modem documentation.

Username and Password

Most DSL service providers deliver preconfigured modems to you, thereby eliminating a setup process that can be confusing if you are a novice user. The modems have a username and password preassigned to the device; often, the default username and password are the same for all modems from the company. Because many users do not bother to change their login information, hackers have an easy way into the modem. Using an IP scanner, a hacker can access your modem's public IP address, enter it into a Web browser and access the configuration screen. To prevent access, you should change your router's login information immediately after setup and periodically after that.

Firmware Update

As your DSL provider discovers new vulnerabilities in its hardware, it develops new firmware versions that contain the latest security patches. If you fail to update your firmware, a hacker can use an existing security hole to compromise your modem. To keep hackers out, update your firmware regularly. Updates are available for download on your service provider's website, along with specific instructions for installation. Check for updates regularly; according to Sophos Naked Security, many DSL hacks occur when users are not aware that new patches are available.

Modem Settings

Many hackers access DSL modems that are available for remote management, so one of the easiest ways to deter hackers is to disable your remote management settings. The setting is easy to change, and you can re-enable it if your DSL company needs remote access during a support call. The specific setting location varies by router, but is usually in an Advanced settings area. On the Actiontec GT701D DSL modem, for example, the setting is located in the Advanced Setup area in the Remote Management tab. Ensure that the remote management option is set to "Off" and apply the changes. You may need to reset your router to confirm the reconfiguration.