U.S. and United Kingdom blame Russian Federation for cyber hacks on internet routers worldwide

17 April, 2018, 07:16 | Author: Wade Massey
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The United States and Britain issued a rare and ominous alert Monday charging Russian Federation of ramping up cyber attacks on American and British companies, government operations and infrastructure.

"Since 2015, the U.S. Government received information from multiple sources-including private and public sector cybersecurity research organizations and allies-that cyber actors are exploiting large numbers of enterprise-class and SOHO/residential routers and switches worldwide", said the technical alert published by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

The hackers are using compromised routers to conduct man-in-the-middle attacks to support cyber espionage, steal intellectual property and maintain persistent access in victim networks for use in additional campaigns.

The campaign particularly targets internet service providers, private sector firms and critical infrastructure providers in both the US and United Kingdom, and around the world.

"When we see malicious cyber activity, whether it be from the Kremlin or other malicious nation-state actors, we are going to push back", said Rob Joyce, the White House cyber security coordinator.

Specifically, the hackers were exploiting default passwords on users' routers, and exploiting unsecured devices in homes and business.

"Once you own the router, you own the traffic traversing the router", chief Homeland Security cyber official Jeanette Manfra said, calling it a "fairly broad campaign" that is not targeting any sector in particular. Finally, the alert outlined what erratic hardware behavior should indicate a device has been compromised.

"The NCSC is leading the way globally to issue advice and automate defences at scale to remove those basic attacks, thereby allowing us to focus on the most potent threats".

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Ciaran Martin, head of the UK's NCSC, said the issuing of the alert marked a "significant moment" as the two powers had never before given joint advice on how to deal with attacks.

"The UK government will continue to work with the U.S., other worldwide allies and industry partners to expose Russia's unacceptable cyber behaviour, so they are held accountable for their actions".

US Homeland Security has directly condemned the Russian state for the attacks.

"The attribution of this malicious activity sends a clear message to Russian Federation - we know what you are doing and you will not succeed", the spokesman added.

The FBI also pledged to do whatever it takes to combat Russian cyberattacks.

Joyce said the alert is unrelated to the joint U.S., British and French airstrike in Syria that was prompted by a suspected chemical weapons attack by the Russian-backed regime of Bashar al-Assad.

"We'll continue to follow the actions of our Russian adversaries and we'll bring every tool to bear against them in every corner of cyber space", said Howard Marshall, Deputy Assistant Director of the Cyber Division at the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

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