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Is it safe to use an old router model?


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7 replies to this topic

#1 JackTorrance

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Posted 18 May 2017 - 10:53 AM

I have been using a Linksys wired router (BEFSR81) for over 15 years now, and it's the perfect router for me. It's simple to use and configure, and the 8 LAN ports are really useful. And I don't need wireless, since all of my devices use wired internet. And I have no issues with my internet, it's fast and stable.

My only concern is, this router model was released in year 2000 so it's now ~17 years old and the official Linksys website does not have any new firmware/driver available. Is it still safe to keep using this router even if it's so old? Would a newer model grant extra protection against potential threats (hackers, viruses, etc) or router does not really matter for that?

 

If upgrading my router is recommended, what is the best wired 8+ LAN port router that's most similar to my Linksys model? ( http://www.linksys.com/us/support-product?pid=01t80000003KOIsAAO )


Edited by hamluis, 18 May 2017 - 10:57 AM.
Moved from External Hardware to Gen Security - Hamluis.


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#2 Joykill

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Posted 18 May 2017 - 11:31 AM

I wouldn't worry about it. Just make sure that the routers control panel doesn't use the default password. 



#3 JackTorrance

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Posted 18 May 2017 - 11:41 AM

I wouldn't worry about it. Just make sure that the routers control panel doesn't use the default password. 

 

Yeah, I changed it. Great to hear, thanks! I'll keep using the router then, if it ain't broke, don't fix it. :D


Edited by JackTorrance, 18 May 2017 - 11:45 AM.


#4 zainmax

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Posted 18 May 2017 - 11:56 AM

No matter, what You use. If any hacker wants to see what You're doing there, he sees it anyway, if he wants to block You, he blocks anyway, etc.

Do not think never, that they are stupid and Your password is too strong to go around and do what is needed.



#5 smax013

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Posted 18 May 2017 - 11:56 AM

The biggest reason that someone typically gets a new router (outside of their old one dying) is to get new features. And typically this is just a matter of preference. The main new features that are kind of beyond preference would improvements in WiFi security (i.e. if you have a WiFi router with only WEP, then it is likely a good idea to get a new router using WPA2) or performance (i.e. you have a router with only a Fast Internet, aka 100 Mbps connection, but now have Internet that exceeds that connection or you want better WiFi speeds). There are the more "preference" type features such as hooking USB printers to a USB port on a router to make them network printers or similar for hard drives; parental controls; guest WiFi networks; etc.

The other main reason would be potential bugs or security vulnerabilities in the router's firmware and/or design, especially if the router is no longer supported. This could be a potential issue with your router, but I am not aware of any know vulnerability...others might have additional information. Barring some information that raises the direct possibility of vulnerabilities, your router should be fine.

FWIW, if you do decide or need to get a new router in the future, you likely will find it tough to find a router with 8 ports included, but that it not a huge issue. You can get any router and add more ports by connecting a network switch to the router. For example, I have two network switches attached to my router...one a 16 port switch and the other an 8 port switch. This is because today's "routers" are actually devices that combine the router part with a built-in network switch. When home based routers first came out years ago, they only had a single port. If you wanted to add additional ports, you connected a switch or hub to the router. Very shortly after, they started including a switch in the router. In today's routers, they typically also include WiFi access points (so that they become "WiFi routers") as well a printer server functions, etc.

#6 JackTorrance

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Posted 18 May 2017 - 03:30 PM

The other main reason would be potential bugs or security vulnerabilities in the router's firmware and/or design, especially if the router is no longer supported. This could be a potential issue with your router, but I am not aware of any know vulnerability...others might have additional information. Barring some information that raises the direct possibility of vulnerabilities, your router should be fine.

That was the main reason I was worried about having an old router. I don't want to get a new router if I don't have to, but if there were security vulnerabilities with my old router then I would have bought a new one. Thanks, very useful post!



#7 smax013

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Posted 18 May 2017 - 04:18 PM

The other main reason would be potential bugs or security vulnerabilities in the router's firmware and/or design, especially if the router is no longer supported. This could be a potential issue with your router, but I am not aware of any know vulnerability...others might have additional information. Barring some information that raises the direct possibility of vulnerabilities, your router should be fine.

That was the main reason I was worried about having an old router. I don't want to get a new router if I don't have to, but if there were security vulnerabilities with my old router then I would have bought a new one. Thanks, very useful post!


As I said, I don't know of any unfixed bugs or vulnerabilities for that router model. I would assume there are likely some since it is so old. Your best bet for potentially find anything on it on your own would be do a good search for that model's vulerabilities. For example, I did a quick search and found this site:

https://www.cvedetails.com/vulnerability-list/vendor_id-833/product_id-1828/Linksys-Befsr81.html

OTOH, the age of the router might play a little to your advantage.

For one thing, it likely does not have some of the features that current routers have that might be able to be exploited. For example, it will definitely not offer "cloud configuration". I am not even sure if you can turn on remote administration (i.e. access the setup screen from outside your local network).

The other is that you might be able to benefit from security due to scarcity/obscurity. In other words, there are likely not a whole lot of those routers still out there in the wild. Thus, there is not a whole lot of "bang for buck" for hackers, etc to spend time trying to crack them.

#8 Didier Stevens

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Posted 20 May 2017 - 03:27 AM

1) Can you tell us more about your network setup? This router doesn't not seem to have a modem, so I would guess your setup is: Internet -> modem -> router -> clients ?

 

2) General remark: depending on the router model you have, you can install an open-source firmware like OpenWrt. But this is not the case for your router.

https://wiki.openwrt.org/toh/start


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