published : 2023-09-17

Don’t toss your old internet router until you do this

Reset your internet router so crooks don’t steal your personal information

A photo of an old router being held by a person, with a caption: 'Dispose of your old router responsibly to protect your personal data. (Photo taken with Canon EOS 5D Mark IV)'

Did you know that your old router can be a gold mine for hackers?

If you don’t erase your personal data from it before disposing of it, you could expose yourself to a number of problems, including identity theft, fraud, and cyberattacks.

Many people might not know how to properly wipe and reset your router since we rarely adjust settings once it's installed.

That’s why we’ve prepared some easy steps for you to follow before you chuck your old router for good.

Resetting your router before you dispose of it means restoring it to its factory settings, which erases any changes you have made to its configuration.

This includes data thieves find valuable like your username and password, your Wi-Fi settings, and more.

It’s important to reset your router before disposing of it because otherwise, someone could access your personal information by simply looking at the router’s memory.

A router’s memory can store various types of information, such as the router’s operating system, configuration files, passwords, and internet history.

Some of this information is sensitive and personal and could be used by a hacker to access your network, devices, or online accounts.

Restarting and resetting your router are two different things.

When you restart your router, you simply turn it off and on again without changing any of your settings.

This can help to fix Wi-Fi problems, such as slow speed or sluggish performance, by clearing its memory and refreshing its connection.

An image of a person pressing the reset button on a router, with a caption: 'Resetting your router to factory settings erases sensitive information. (Photo taken with Nikon D850)'

Resetting your router, on the other hand, is a more drastic and permanent action that should be done before you dispose of your router.

Resetting your router means restoring it to its factory settings, which erases any changes you have made to its configuration.

This includes your username, and password, your Wi-Fi network name and password, your security settings, and any other settings that you may have customized on your router, such as port forwarding, firewall, parental controls, and guest network.

After resetting your router, you will have to set up your network again from scratch.

If you do not reset your router, you risk the chance of hackers finding out who you are and what specific network configurations you use, which should be private.

This can allow the hacker to get full access to your private information, such as your name, password, as well as your login credentials, and use it for malicious purposes like selling it on the dark web, holding it for ransom, or something else to cause a tech headache.

You wouldn't want a hacker gaining information to any of your private devices like your cellphone or laptop, so you should hold the same rule for your router.

Resetting your router is essential before getting rid of it.

By doing so, you can protect your personal data and prevent hackers from accessing your network and devices.

The good part is that resetting your router is a simple and easy process that only takes a few minutes.

It can also save you a lot of trouble in the future.

Remember to back up your settings and passwords, disconnect your router, reset it to factory settings, remove any identifying labels, and recycle or donate it responsibly.

A picture of a person securely removing identifying labels from a router, with a caption: 'Ensure your router is free from any identifiable information before disposal. (Photo taken with Sony Alpha A7R III)'

Have you ever experienced any security concerns related to your electronic devices in the past?

Let us know by writing us at

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Copyright 2023 All rights reserved.

Kurt 'CyberGuy' Knutsson is an award-winning tech journalist who has a deep love of technology, gear and gadgets that make life better with his contributions for beginning mornings on 'FOX & Friends.'

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