Russian military spy software is on hundreds of thousands of home routers

Specifically, the May 23 report said, at least 500,000 victims in up to 54 countries.

The malware executes in three stages, according to the Talos report. The first stage is akin to a tick burrowing into a victim’s skin, to “dig in” with its teeth by changing the infected devices’ non-volatile persistent memory, the portion of the memory that persists even after the machine is turned off. During this phase, the malware also establishes links to any servers it finds.

Stages two and three are about receiving and executing the orders. These could include: stealing traffic data from the victim (via port 80), launching “man in the middle” attacks, using the router as a platform to attack other computers as part of a botnet, or overwriting the memory on the router to render it unusable.