Australia blames Russian Federation over hacking of 400 companies in 2017

17 April, 2018, 10:42 | Author: Sheila Harris
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The US and British governments on Monday 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.

U.S. and United Kingdom officials say Russian state-sponsored hackers have been historically targeting Internet routing equipment in order "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".

"We have high confidence that Russian Federation has carried out a coordinated campaign to compromise. routers, residential and business - the things you and I have in our home", said Rob Joyce, the White House cybersecurity coordinator.

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.

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".

"When we see malicious cyber activity, whether it be from the Kremlin or other malicious actors, we're going to push back", Joyce said.

"Russia is our most capable hostile adversary in cyberspace."

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On Monday, the US Department of Homeland Security, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the UK's National Cyber Security Center jointly issued a technical alert.

Network infrastructure devices make particularly attractive targets as they are the nexus for massive amounts of internet traffic and tend to be maintained far less diligently than the devices that people use every day, like computers and mobile devices. "Most or all organizational and customer traffic must traverse these critical devices".

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

"Russian government-sponsored actors" accessing passwords, information through routers. For owners, they're asked to ensure network devices are up-to-date, change default passwords, and ensure the firmware on the device is from a trusted source.

In its alert Monday, DHS described the hackers' techniques, from scanning Internet address spaces to exploiting routers, switches and network intrusion-detection devices.

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

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