Russia Denies Tampering With Evidence In Syria Chemical Attack

Vanuatu PM reassures Aust PM that there will be no Chinese base

Vanuatu PM reassures Aust PM that there will be no Chinese base

"Essentially you've got Russian Federation exploiting vulnerabilities in Cisco routers to potentially conduct a whole range of activities, from espionage to pre-positioning for attacks on critical infrastructure", Mr Hanson said.

The attacks targeted Cisco routers with "Smart Install" and potentially affected government departments, companies and infrastructure facilities running Cisco equipment.

Syria agreed to give up its chemical weapons arsenal in 2013 and submit to OPCW inspections to avert US retaliation after a suspected nerve gas attack in Douma killed hundreds of people.

A joint United Nations-OPCW mission concluded that troops under President Bashar al-Assad had used chemical weapons several times in recent years, including a sarin attack a year ago in the town of Khan Sheikhoun that killed almost 100 people.

It took months of investigations to trace the origin of the August cyber-attacks, authorities said, and Tuesday's announcement was not in response to developments in Syria.

Some private-sector cyber security experts have criticized the US government for being too slow to release information about cyber attacks. The targets number in the millions, officials say, and include "primarily government and private-sector organisations, critical infrastructure providers, and the internet service providers (ISPs) supporting these sectors".

"Commercially available routers were used as a point of entry, demonstrating that every connected device is vulnerable to malicious activity".

Despite the breach, the government said there was "no indication Australian information has been successfully compromised".

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In August it issued a warning saying that switches with Cisco Smart Install accessible from the internet, and routers or switches with simple network management protocol enabled and exposed to the internet, were vulnerable.

The US and British governments have accused Russian Federation of conducting a massive campaign to compromise computer routers and firewalls around the world - from home offices to internet providers - for espionage and possibly sabotage purposes.

"Access to the device may facilitate malicious cyber adversaries gaining access to the information that flows through the device", the agency warned.

A senior USA official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said there had been a steady increase in Russian cyber attacks in recent years.

Advice circulated by United States and UK authorities warned Cisco routers - a common commercial brand - were affected.

Senior security officials in the USA and United Kingdom issued a joint statement Monday blaming Russia for a "malicious" cyber offensive aimed at stealing intellectual property and possible espionage to support the "Russian Federation's national security and economic goals", ABC News reports. Last month the Trump administration blamed Russian Federation for a campaign of cyber attacks stretching back at least two years that targeted the US power grid.

But they portrayed this as far more serious because of the potential to undermine infrastructure.

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