Russia Denies US and UK Allegations of Global Cyber Attack

Hannah Rogers
April 17, 2018

Russian Federation is using compromised computer-network equipment to attack USA and British companies and government agencies, the two countries warned in an unprecedented joint alert. It included advice to companies about how to protect themselves and warned specifically of attacks on routers, the devices that channel data around a network.

"The FBI has high confidence that Russian state-sponsored cyber actors are using compromised routers to conduct man-in-the-middle attacks to support espionage, extract intellectual property, maintain persistent access to victim networks, and potentially lay a foundation for future offensive operations", the website added.

An investigation into the global "mass hacking" began three years ago after cybersecurity workers and allies informed the U.S. government that "large numbers" of enterprise and residential routers worldwide had been hacked by an unknown entity.

The UK National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) combined with the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the US Department of Homeland Security issued a formal alert about "malicious cyber activity" by Russian operatives.

FBI Deputy Assistant Director Howard Marshall said the activity is a part of a "repeated pattern of disruptive and harmful cyber action" carried out by Russian Federation.

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"It's a tremendous weapon in the hand of an adversary", said Howard Marshall, FBI's deputy assistant director for cybersecurity.

These network devices make "ideal targets", said Manfra, Homeland Security's assistant secretary for cybersecurity and communications. Last month the Trump administration blamed Russian Federation for a campaign of cyber attacks that targeted the US power grid.

Millions of machines had been targeted in a "sustained" campaign and the United States and United Kingdom admitted they still did not know the full extent to which the system had been compromised. "The NCSC is leading the way globally to automate defences at scale to take away some of those basic attacks, thereby allowing us to focus on the most potent threats".

In an extraordinary joint statement, authorities in the United States and the UK revealed that Russian Federation has been probing the cyber-defences to identify vulnerabilities that will "lay a foundation for future offensive operations". "We are pushing back and we are pushing back hard", he said.

These potential "victim networks" range from small-office and in-home systems to large private and public sector corporations.

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