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Hacker is breaking into people’s routers and patching them so they can’t be abused by other hackers

In a remarkable act of digital altruism, a Russian-speaking grey-hat hacker, known as Alexey, is emerging as an unexpected hero in the realm of cybersecurity. Rather than exploiting vulnerabilities in people’s MikroTik routers, Alexey is on a mission to protect them from cryptojackers, botnet herders, and other cyber-criminals.

In an awe-inspiring revelation, Alexey claims to have disinfected over 100,000 MikroTik routers, showcasing a unique blend of technical prowess and a desire to make the digital landscape safer for users. His actions, though unconventional, come from a genuine intent to safeguard vulnerable devices from exploitation.

This white-hat hacker hasn’t concealed his mission; instead, he openly shares his endeavors on a Russian blogging platform. Alexey penetrates routers and applies corrective measures to their settings, effectively blocking access from external networks and fortifying them against potential abuse. He even provides information about the vulnerability in the comments, directing users to a Telegram channel for further inquiries.

Despite his altruistic efforts, only a handful of users have reached out to Alexey, expressing gratitude or seeking clarification. This unanticipated response underscores the complexity of the cybersecurity landscape and the challenge of bridging the gap between awareness and action.

Alexey’s noble crusade revolves around fixing routers that remain unpatched against a MikroTik vulnerability discovered in April. This vulnerability, known as CVE-2018-14847, initially posed a zero-day threat, but MikroTik promptly released a fix. Exploiting this flaw, cyber-criminals deployed cryptojacking scripts on outdated MikroTik routers, leading to a widespread security concern.

The MikroTik brand, widely popular with over two million routers globally, faced a surge of infections. Security researchers estimate that over 420,000 routers show signs of cryptocurrency-mining script infections, highlighting the urgency of addressing this issue.

While cyber-criminals sought to exploit this vulnerability, Alexey’s intervention emerges as a beacon of hope. His actions, although technically illegal, expose the vulnerability of these routers and serve as a wake-up call for users and Internet Service Providers (ISPs) alike.

Amidst this digital vigilante tale, security researcher Troy Mursch emphasizes the need for remediation efforts by service providers. The challenge lies not only in securing home routers but also in addressing edge devices within ISPs’ internal infrastructure.

In the world of cybersecurity, where threats loom large, Alexey’s unconventional approach may serve as a catalyst for change. His actions, driven by a desire to protect, underscore the importance of community-driven initiatives in fortifying the digital realm against malicious actors.

While Alexey may be on the fringes of legality, his impact could resonate far beyond the routers he cleans. In the intricate dance between cyber-criminals and defenders, his unconventional methods might just inspire a more proactive stance from both users and ISPs in securing the digital landscape.

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Last modified: January 29, 2024