UPnP or Universal Plug and Play, is a hot topic in the networking industry. You might have noticed that one of your mobile devices immediately connects to the home router without authentication – an example of Universal Plug and Play.
UPnP allows ports to forward to connect to a network whenever there’s a UPnP request. Undoubtedly, it makes communication easier and faster as it doesn’t require human intervention or manual operation. Your Asus RT-AC66U comes with the UPnP facility, like most routers.
By enabling the UPnP function on your Asus router, you can automate the connectivity to your router. Yet, it might compromise security and safety measures, and there are chances of data breaches and other cybersecurity threats.
Let’s find out whether UPnP is safe for you and how you can enable it on Asus RT-AC66U.
Universal Plug and Play: The Working Mechanism
Before you understand whether UPnP is safe for your security standard or not, you should have a clear concept of how it works. You might have paired or connected all your devices to your router through a security key. Whenever your mobile devices sense the SSID of the router with their Wi-Fi mode enabled, they readily connect to the router.
It’s quite simple. However, the inside story is a bit complex. The connected device joins your home network, and it gains an IP address. The device appears with a name, and you can discover the device on that network. Similarly, that device can discover other devices on the same network.
As a consequence, that newly connected device can interact with other devices. However, the dangerous part of UPnP is that not all connected devices, like smart coffee machines, smart bulbs, etc., will grab an IP address.
Hence, they might not be visible under the list of connected devices on the network. But, they can still communicate with other devices over RFID or Bluetooth of Radio Frequency Identification.
Risks Associated with Universal Plug and Play
Reportedly, the UPnP protocol can automatically open ports into a firewall. In addition, it can allow any device to sneak into a particular network and make it vulnerable. The UPnP protocol can fail the use of a firewall and its purpose. Anything malicious that can access the firewall’s permission through the UPnP port can easily get into the system.
Thus, experts recommend disabling the UPnP feature for good. In addition, the UPnP implementation on behalf of router manufacturers is not up to the mark based on the advanced networking standards. Routers might fail to distinguish a threat to your network, and you might end up exploiting your network securities.
Shockingly, numerous malware can use UPnP to invade your network. Evidence shows that viruses, Trojans, worms, and more have infected networks via bypassing systems through the UPnP portal. Routers with enabled UPnP allow every program, and you have to compensate for this.
UPnP on your Asus RT-AC66U: Should you continue?
Since you know the UPnP protocol’s drawbacks, let’s introduce you to the benefits at a glance. The protocol permits devices and applications to automatically open and shut ports to connect to the LAN network. The external device gains access to the web traffic via the internal network without inputting the authentication factors.
Hence, the UPnP protocol is very convenient, and you can enable the feature on your Asus RT-AC66U router if required. Yet, you have to keep all the security flaws in your mind. You can switch on the UPnP protocol only if you don’t go for port forwarding. The absence of port forwarding will keep your network much safer even if you activate the UPnP protocol on the Asus RT-AC66U.
Otherwise, you shouldn’t use the UPnP protocol if you depend on port forwarding. Therefore, it’s up to you whether you want to enable the UPnP protocol on your router or not.
Easy Steps for Enabling UPnP on your Asus RT-AC66U
If you have decided to enable the UPnP protocol, here it is. As a user of Asus RT-AC66U, you must enter your router’s web-based admin interface. Then, you can make the necessary tweaks to activate the UPnP protocol on your router.
Check out the step-by-step instructions to turn on or off the UPnP feature:
Access the Web-Based Admin Panel
Connect one of your computers to your Asus RT-AC66U router. You can use an Ethernet cable or the Wi-Fi network. Now, you have to open any internet browser on the computer. A few supported browsers for the Asus router’s admin interface are Microsoft Edge, Google Chrome, Safari, Mozilla Firefox, and Opera. Therefore, you can use any of these.
After opening an internet browser, you must go to the address bar and type in the URL: http://router.asus.com. Hit the Enter button, which will open up the router setting page’s login gateway.
Provide the Sign-in Essentials
You haven’t entered the router’s setting or admin interface yet. You must enter login credentials to access all the basic and advanced settings of the router. Provide the default username and password if you haven’t changed them. If you changed them, you must enter the right login credentials.
Once you are done entering the credentials, submit them. This will take you to the Asus router’s admin page.
Now, here you have to enable the UPnP protocol in the following steps:
Turn on the UPnP Protocol on Asus RT-AC66U
Locate and click the Advanced option from the left panel of the admin interface. Next, hit the WAN option when the Advanced settings open up. Under WAN settings, find out the Basic Configuration option. Click on it, and you can notice the UPnP feature there. Turn it on or off according to your preference and save those settings for your Asus RT-AC66U.
Measures to Keep your Asus RT-AC66U More Secure
Your router’s security settings are extremely important to deter cyber-attacks. Otherwise, outsiders can get into your network and make vulnerable changes to the devices connected to the router.
Here are a few security tips for the safe usage of your router:
Make WPA2-AES the Encryption
Usually, Asus RT-AC66U and other Asus routers come with WPA2-AES encryption by default. It’s recommended to stick to it, although other encryption protocols are available.
Assign Complex and Long Passwords
Avoid passwords such as 123456 or qwertyuiop for your router password. Always assign 8 or more characters for a password with uppercase and lowercase alphabets, characters, and numbers. In addition, don’t use anyone’s name and birthday for the password. Remember to create separate passwords for the wireless network and the web GUI gateway.
Update the Router’s Firmware
Give your router’s security a boost with time-to-time firmware updates. New firmware updates come with elevated security features to keep your routers away from preying eyes.
Deactivate the WAN Access
Your router can be accessed by the internet if you keep the access from WAN enabled. Hence, you should disable this and keep it disabled, or else there’s a special technical requirement. In addition, you should keep Telnet, SSH, and DMZ disabled for a reliable experience.
Disable the UPnP Protocol
By default, the UPnP protocol might be active on the ASUSWRT interface. Fortunately, you can disable it and minimise the risk of security invasion. Follow the above steps to disable the UPnP feature for your Asus RT-AC66U router.
Allow HTTPS only
HTTPS is a variation of the HTTP protocol with an added layer of SSL or TLS encryption. Navigate to the Advanced settings of ASUSWRT and hover over the Administration option. Go to System, followed by the Local Access Config, and you can switch the authentication method to HTTPS. Make sure you manually type in HTTPS at the beginning of any URL.
Allow Only Mentioned IP Address to Enter ASUSWRT
Restrict the gateway for ASUSWRT to each and every connected device. Instead, assign only a particular IP address that can access ASUSWRT. Navigate to Administration under Advanced settings. Next, click the System option and mention the specific IP address under the ‘Specified IP Address’ section.
Activate Firewall and AiProtection
Head toward ASUSWRT’s Advanced settings page to enable the Firewall. By default, the router firewall stays enabled, and you should not disable it by any chance. On the other hand, you should enable the AiProtection feature for your Asus router if it’s available for your device.
Is UPnP Safe for your Asus RT-AC66U in 2022?
It’s safe to enable UPnP as long as you allow safe and secure devices to connect to the established network. However, you can’t guarantee that every device is safe and no outsider will join your network. Therefore, it’s better to disable UPnP for your router if you do not need port forwarding; otherwise, a cyber attack will be just a matter of time.