Russian hackers start targeting critical United Kingdom national infrastructure

Russia accused of massive global attack on computer routers

Russia accused of massive global attack on computer routers

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.

"For over twenty years, GCHQ has been tracking the key Russian cyber-attack groups and today's joint UK-US alert shows that the threat has not gone away".

These attacks target government, the private sector and critical infrastructure, as well as the Internet Service Providers (ISPs) providing support to these sectors, with attacks across the globe on network infrastructure devices including routers, switches, firewalls, Network Intrusion Detection Systems (NIDS).

It was the two countries' first such joint alert.

White House cybersecurity coordinator Rob Joyce said the United States and its allies had "high confidence" that Russian Federation was behind the campaign.

"We don't have full insight into the scope of the compromise", said Jeanette Manfra, a cybersecurity official for the DHS.

Russian Federation has denied involvement, and on Saturday also condemned strikes against Syria by Western powers, which Theresa May on Monday defended in the House of Commons. Rather, it is part of a broader ongoing effort by the United States government to call out bad behaviour in cyberspace and impose costs as a deterrent. "This isn't an isolated incident by any stretch and should be viewed in the totality of Russian malicious cyber activity".

No sanctions or penalties were announced Monday, and the alert is unrelated to expected sanctions on Russian Federation in coming days, though Joyce reiterated that "all elements of U.S. power are available to push back" on such hacking efforts.

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The US government also has obtained indictments against Iranian hackers, and accused North Korea of being behind the WannaCry computer worm that affected more than 230,000 computers around the world.

In a joint statement, the British National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC), the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the US Department of Homeland Security warned that a global hacking campaign by the Kremlin had already started.

The aim seems to be to "seize control" of the machines that connect networks to the internet, and in the case of internet providers, to gain access to their customers, for espionage or other purposes, he said. Further intelligence about the attacks had been added by "multiple" cyber-security organisations and companies, he added. So a hacker can monitor, modify or disrupt it, she said.

Worryingly, the style of attack detected means hackers have permanent access to the networks they have infiltrated.

Looks like it's time to change the default password on your router, especially if you operate a home office.

"Extracted configuration files may contain sensitive information, such as device administrative credentials, and could be used to compromise the router/switch and enable targeting of other devices on the network".

"It provides basic infrastructure that they can launch from", one top USA official said. It was not clear Monday whether that compromise was part of the same campaign.

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