US, UK warn of Russian hack


Russian Federation has hacked into millions of computers across Britain, including home terminals and internet routers, and may be preparing for a widescale cyber attack, U.S. and United Kingdom security chiefs said in an unprecedented warning last night.

According to a joint statement between British intelligence, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the White House National Security Council and Homeland Security on Monday, Russian "cyber actors" had compromised routers, which are used to connect computers to the internet, to breach security systems and steal information.

Ciaran Martin, CEO of the UK's National Cyber Security Centre, called it "a very significant moment as we hold Russian Federation to account and we improve our cyber defenses at the same time".

Following the US-UK alert, Australian government issued a statement joining its allies in "expressing concern at the malicious cyber activity targeting commercially available routers around the world".

The goal of cyber-piracy is routers that form a major part of the internet infrastructure in a cyber-targeting campaign that could be used in the future to launch attacks.

Taylor said that the incidents were unacceptable and that the Australian Government calls on all countries, including Russian Federation, not to take actions that could lead to damage of critical infrastructure that provide services to the public. Officials said Russian actors have exploited routers with outdated firmware, weak credentials, and misconfigured features to gain a foothold on vulnerable devices. The DHS said that they have seen Russian activity scan for vulnerabilities within the past two years, but there is no way to tell how many devices were affected or attacked. In September 2017, Russian hacker Peter Levashov was arrested in Spain on a usa warrant and said he had worked for President Vladimir Putin's ruling United Russia party.

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Martin said the attacks could be designed for spying, stealing intellectual property or possibly "prepositioning for use in times of heightened tension".

"This is a significant moment in the transatlantic fight back against Russian aggression in cyberspace", Martin said.

"Specifically, these cyber-exploits were directed at network infrastructure devices worldwide such as routers, switches, firewalls, network intrusion detection system", it said.

The imminent attack was not, however, linked to allied nations' missile strikes on Saturday in Syria, Britain's Press Association (PA) news agency reported, citing White House cybersecurity coordinator Rob Joyce.

"It is not necessarily the case that you are trying to steal data all the time, conduct espionage, there are reasons you might want to be inside a network and it could be to conduct an offensive operation at a time of your choosing", he said.