Can Malware Spread Through Wi-Fi? (Explained)

Viruses are a bother wherever we go. They can infect our phones, computers, and other devices. Some are easily removed, but others can be detrimental to our technology to the point of no return. But how does it spread? Can malware be spread through Wi-Fi?

Wi-Fi is one of the easiest and most dangerous ways malware can spread and infect other devices. This is especially the case when Wi-Fi has no protection whatsoever. It can get valuable information when any device is attached to Wi-Fi.

Although unprotected Wi-Fi can be dangerous to our devices, there are ways to prevent information from being stolen, as well as ways to protect both the wireless connection and technology.

can malware spread through wifi

Can Malware Spread Through Wi-Fi?

Yes. Wi-Fi is one of the most significant security vulnerabilities that a company or citizen can have. Hackers can target the wireless network and infect it with malware. Then when a device connects to the infected Wi-Fi, the malware spreads.

A Wi-Fi network is like any other technology and can get infected by viruses. Many manufacturers provide their own protection, but sometimes it isn’t enough. If a cheap router is purchased, there is less likely to be protection than one with more upgrades and security precautions.

There have even been some cases where malware or viruses have moved from network to network. This is more the case for urban areas (rather than rural areas) where wireless networks overlap. So it is crucial to protect these networks to prevent this from happening.

How To Tell If My Wi-Fi Is Infected

Sometimes a network or a router can be infected without you even knowing it. It often happens slowly and can be overlooked. 

Here are some signs that a virus has infected the network or router:

  • Unknown toolbars or software are being installed.
  • Internet searches get redirected for no reason.
  • Fake antivirus messages pop up.
  • Programs crash.
  • Internet is running slowly.
  • Data locks with ransomware.
  • Familiar sites look different.

There are many ways to determine if a device or the wireless network has been infected. Continue reading to learn what to do and how to protect the Wi-Fi.

The 4 Ways To Protect Your Wi-Fi

Many steps can be taken to protect the Wi-Fi network and router. Although the manufacturer or provider will have some protection, there is no harm in adding more layers of defense. 

Here are some things that can be done to protect my Wi-Fi:

  • Password protection
  • Antivirus programs
  • Turn off SSID
  • Encrypt data

1. Password Protection

Password protection is one of the most straightforward steps to protecting a Wi-Fi network. This provides an obstacle that makes it harder for hackers and malware to infect the router or upload any unwanted viruses.

Ensure that the password is complex and not the default password. When a password is simple and hasn’t been changed from the default password, the Wi-Fi is easier to hack and become a victim to malicious malware.

2. Anti-Virus Programs

It is a good investment to get antivirus programs downloaded on a home computer for your wireless network. It adds to the defense of Wi-Fi. Plus, there is a lot of important data on computers nowadays, with everything and everyone going digital with documents.

Many cheap programs require subscriptions, but some can give basic protection for free. AVG is a popular program that provides free services for minimal protection.

3. Turn Off SSID

The SSID is the Service Set Identifier. It will broadcast that there is a wireless network around. Turn this off so that people are not easily aware that there is Wi-Fi available. This makes it where the wireless network isn’t just announcing where hackers can locate it.

Also, try changing the SSID name. When the name is the default setting, hackers will see that as a sign that this Wi-Fi may not be as protected as others and try to infect it with malware. Use a name that also doesn’t provide too many identifiers.

4. Encrypt Data

Many devices will allow data to be encrypted. Just turn on the WPA encryption, and it will encrypt the data so that it cannot be obtained. If that is not available, there is the other option of WEP encryption to protect the wireless network.

How To Remove Malware

Malware can be a pest to deal with, but it is not the end of the world if a virus is detected. It is essential to save any important information before removing the virus because the router and devices may need a factory reset. This is especially true for more malicious malware.

Use A Program

Many antivirus programs protect devices and wireless networks and can help remove a virus. Don’t rely on free programs to partake in this removal, as it is usually an upgrade to a subscription for this feature.

Get A New Router

If all else fails, a new router may be needed to restore proper functioning internet. Most providers will give a free router, especially if it has been within a specific time frame. The routers should be replaced every few years.

Other routers online can be purchased that provide extra protection if the service provider’s option isn’t protected. Ensure that encryption is an option on the router for another layer of protection.

Do A Factory Reset

A factory reset may be the best option when malware and viruses have infected a router. It will wipe the settings clean and hopefully get rid of the infection. This procedure isn’t complex. It usually is just a paperclip pressing a small button on the back or bottom of the router.

A factory reset doesn’t mean that all your devices will be clean of the malware, nor does it wipe any data from your devices. If your device has been infected, it will need to be either wiped scanned by a program.

Change Password

Try to update the password. This step should be taken after the router has been factory reset. Updating and changing the password and the network name will make it more difficult for malware to return to the router. 

Ensure that the password is not similar to the previous password and is unique. Unique passwords will provide more protection, while default passwords and simple passwords can increase the chance of a virus returning.


Malware has its way of infecting many things, including your Wi-Fi and devices. With layers of protection and being cautious with external links on the internet, it can be stopped. Don’t forget the password can be the biggest difference between infection or not.

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