WASHINGTON -- The FBI is pleading with Americans to reboot their routers.
The FBI issued an urgent bulletin, asking anyone with a home or small business internet router to turn them on and back off again to temporarily stop the spread of malware linked to Russia.
The U.S. Department of Justice is blaming a group known as A.P.T. 28 or Fancy Bear, which operates under the guidance of Russia's military intelligence agency.
It's estimated that more than a 500,000 routers in at least 54 countries have been compromised.
"It's targeting stealing passwords. It actually installs software on your access points and tries to steal passwords," said Joe McManus, an information technology professor at the University of Colorado.
McManus set up a system in his classroom to show students how often hackers try to break in. Each time it happens, a device lights up, showing where in the world the attack originated.
"I have to say about every five minutes someone is trying to attack it using a brute force password attack," McManus said.
This new attack by Russian hackers is especially sophisticated. The FBI says unplugging and rebooting routers should help lessen the impacts of the hack.
"That's a temporary solution though. It will get rid of the virus for a while," McManus said.
For a permanent fix, users should unplug the router and plug it back in. That should be followed by a complete reset of the router.
To do that, use a pen or pencil to hold the reset button on the back of the router.
There's no easy way to tell if the router has been compromised by hackers. Routers from Linksys, Mikrotik, and Netgear have been deemed most affected.
In addition to resetting the router, McManus also recommends updating passwords and also installing patches, or upgrades, that can be obtained through the router manufacturer's website.AlertMe