Intelligence agencies warn of broad campaign by state-sponsored Russian hackers

20 April, 2018, 01:30 | Author: Grady King
  • Russia Syria airstrikes Putin Trump

US and British officials are expected to release an unprecedented joint technical alert on the malicious Russian activity later Monday.

They are then using these compromised routers to conduct man-in-the-middle (MitM) attacks for cyber espionage or stealing intellectual property.

"They could be pre-positioning for use in times of tension", Ciaran Martin, head of the British government's National Cyber Security Center said, adding that "millions of machines" used to move traffic across the net were targeted.

So if you're responsible for telecommunications infrastructure equipment, do your jobs, please, and harden these devices!

"Whoever controls the routing infrastructure of a network essentially controls the data flowing through the network", the advisory says, a possibility that might allow for denial of service, information manipulation or physical destruction in the context of critical infrastructure.

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The warning states that since 2015, authorities have received information about "cyber actors" exploiting large numbers of enterprise-scale and residential routers and switches 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", White House cybersecurity coordinator Rob Joyce said.

And after several years of naming and shaming the Russian government for backing the hacking of U.S. government systems, not much has changed.

"We condemn this latest activity in the strongest possible terms and we will not accept nor tolerate any malign foreign cyber operations, intrusions, or compromises-to include influence operations", said Jeanette Manfra, the chief cybersecurity official at Homeland Security.

"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.

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US-CERT urged affected companies, and public sector organizations and even people who use routers in home offices to take action to harden poorly-secured devices.

As it stands now, Britain's relations with Russia are at a historic low following the recent nerve agent attack on former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter in England.

He commented on the threat posed by home internet servers, saying: "We are confident that Russian Federation has carried out a co-ordinated campaign to gain access to enterprise, small office routers and residential routers - the kind of things you and I have in our homes".

The Australian government has indicated that the attacks targeted network infrastructure devices such as routers, switches and firewalls, including Cisco networking gear.

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