Virgin Media are hijacking your router - again!


Virgin Media are trying to resell your internet access. Worse still, they appear to be doing it without users' permission.

A brief recap:

Back in 2015, Virgin Media announced plans for a WiFi sharing network. A user's router would broadcast a separate WiFi network and other Virgin customers could roam on to it via an app. By default, all customers were opted-in to this service.

Like most of Virgin's plans, it was marred by delays and technical problems. I was on the trial for their new SuperHub3 - and it seems they were unable to get their router manufacturer to supply stable software. Faced with buggy routers and dreadful app reviews it looked like they had abandoned their plans.

Until last week - when I noticed that my hub had suddenly started to broadcast a new WiFi network without my permission.

A list of visible WiFi networks

Let me explain what's happening here. I have a main network, a guest network I've set up for demonstration purposes, and a "Virgin Media" SSID that I don't control.

Network MAC address
2.4㎓ network c0:05:c2:04:4d:e1
Demonstration network e2:05:c2:04:4d:e1
Unauthorised "Virgin Media" d0:05:c2:04:4d:e1

Notice a pattern?

This signal is on the same channel, with the same signal strength, and a virtually identical MAC. This is coming from my router.

OK, let's try to opt-out. Oh. You can't. Virgin offer an opt-out screen at https://my.virginmedia.com/my-profile/view - but it doesn't work.

Virgin's opt-out form

A day after opting-out, the router was still sharing my WiFi. I called customer services who admitted that the form doesn't work properly(!) but that they would manually mark my account as opted-out.

24 hours - and several reboots - later, nothing had changed.

A few points to note.

Virgin's illegitimate WiFi uses EAP security. That's not an option which is available to customers via the hub's GUI.

Virgin's GUI doesn't have an option for EAP

There's no way I could have accidentally set up this rogue network.

Virgin's customer service on Twitter was predictably poor. They don't know about the service:

But still advise that it can be disabled:

Is this a useful service?

No. The UK has excellent mobile phone coverage - it is particularly good around residential areas.

Virgin's routers have fairly limited range. In order to connect to the shared signal, someone would have to be literally standing outside my front door. Creepy.

As I've discussed before, sharing your WiFi connection may have legal consequences. Are you confident that someone committing a crime via your connection wouldn't be traced back to you? Do you think the police will understand the difference between a device on your network and a device on your shared network?

If you're sensible, you'll turn off Virgin's WiFi sharing. But that seems like Virgin aren't competent enough to make that possible.

What Next

Virgin have known about the problem for over a month but refuse to fix it.

Frankly, I'd move away from them - but they're the only company in my area offering 200Mbps speeds.

If you're affected by this, I suggest three actions

  1. Call up and complain to them until they fix this. The number is 0345 454 1111.
  2. Disable your 2.4GHz network. You will still be sharing a connection on 5GHz, but the range is weaker and less likely to leave your home.
  3. Buy a separate router. With the hub in Modem Mode, no WiFi is broadcast and you can regain complete control of your network.

Virgin Media really need to sort this out. It is unacceptable to hijack a customer's connection without consent.


After complaining on Virgin's forum, they've fixed the problem for me. I don't know how many other people are unwittingly sharing their service.

11 thoughts on “Virgin Media are hijacking your router - again!

  1. Also, does that make the owner of the router a service provider? Are they responsible for anything accessed via the extra network provided by their equipment? Does traffic look like it comes from the Virgin user's own IP, or separate?

    1. If you connect to the guest network, you cannot access the router's management GUI. But their routers run fairly outdated software - so no guarantees.

  2. What are you actually losing here that you can legitimately complain about? You still have priority over the extra traffic, which you quite rightly suggest will be minimal. At most it'll cost you an extra couple of pennies a year in power, which you could probably save elsewhere.

    But what does it gain? For people like me who are constantly travelling, the BT equivalent gave me connectivity all over the UK for a pretty decent price. Over the years I've subscribed to a number of similar offerings in different countries, and it's always been a good cheap way of connecting while on the move.

    In fact, this would be a big selling point for me. Why should I refuse access to unused bandwidth that I'm not even paying for when it would benefit others? What does it actually cost you?

    1. Hi Alice, thanks for your comment.

      > What are you actually losing here that you can legitimately complain about?

      This isn't about *loss* - this is about *control*. If I don't have control over how the equipment in my house behaves, it makes me nervous. Given the poor state of the Arris software, I'm not convinced that having strangers connect to my WiFi will be secure.

      > At most it'll cost you an extra couple of pennies a year in power

      In my last blog post, I estimated this to be around £10 per year. You're welcome to send me a tenner if you think that's trivial. https://paypal.me/edent/gbp10

      > In fact, this would be a big selling point for me.

      And that's the key point - it's good for *you*, but it isn't good for *me*. If you're round my house and want to get on the WiFi, I'll happily give you the password to the guest account.

      If this is such a good deal, Virgin should have no problem making it an opt-in process. The fact that they're forcing users into adopting it and providing a broken opt-out process would indicate that they're not confident most users actively want it.

  3. Did anyone ever get to the bottom of this?

    I have exactly same issue and have just spent one hour to online VM help, including them taking over my desktop. They just deny this Virgin Media SSID exists, even though I show them WiFi analyser screenshots and that it is visible to both my Android & IOS home devices.

    When I select on Android, I get asked for Phase 2 Authentication - EAP certificate?

    PS: I see your Cable Modem is ARRIS, mine is NETGEAR, so it's clearly not tied to one vendor

    It does not seem to affect performance, but like you I don't like the idea of an SSID broadcasting from my home without my control.

    I asked for it to be logged with third line support but they woudn't

  4. Terence
    Many thanks for the link. Reading through it seemed that a proper Factory Reset was needed. VM had rolled back the firmware from that which had the alien SSID but a factory reset was needed to re-install. Mind you it took me ages to get factory reset to work. Holding in the paper clip for minutes, then turning power off then repowering with clip, didn't do it.

    In the end a 'soft' factory reset from the Webpage GUI got yhr defaults back and hey presto no Virgin Media SSID

    Strange their call centre bods know nothing about this

    Thank for your help, I'll keep my eye on it and hope it doesn't re-appear.

  5. Thanks for this page. I've just set-up a Netgear wireless repeater in my house and was checking channel collisions. Happened to notice this "Virgin Media" network which confused me but you've explained it all. Are VM planning to roll out this service? I'm in two minds about it...

What do you reckon?

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