US, UK issue joint alert warning of Russian cyberattacks

20 April, 2018, 01:28 | Author: Tara Reeves
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USA and British officials are expected to release an unprecedented joint technical alert on the malicious Russian activity later Monday.

The governments said the Russian operations, which allegedly involve planting malware on internet routers and other equipment, could also lay the foundation for future offensive cyber-attacks.

According to officials, the campaign, which involved a range of Russia- aligned cyber entities, used a series of exploits to target millions of devices around the world and that "sustained targeting" of government networks and critical infrastructure entities was apparent.

While the focus of the alert is how individuals and businesses, from the home office to large enterprises, can protect themselves from the attack, the goal was also calling out Russia's bad behavior, officials said.

"DHS and Federal Bureau of Investigation characterize this activity as a multi-stage intrusion campaign by Russian government cyber actors who targeted small commercial facilities' networks where they staged malware, conducted spear phishing, and gained remote access into energy sector networks", said the alert. The report "provides information on the worldwide cyber exploitation of network infrastructure devices (e.g., router, switch, firewall, Network-based Intrusion Detection System (NIDS) devices) by Russian state-sponsored cyber actors".

"When we see malicious cyber activity, whether it be from the Kremlin or other nation state actors, we are going to push back", he added.

The PM's comments come as Australia have joined the U.S. in blaming Russian Federation for orchestrating mass cyber attacks.

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USA and United Kingdom officials briefing reporters said the attacks could be used for espionage or intellectual property theft or for laying the groundwork for destructive attacks should tensions escalate.

But the officials said that the extent of Russia's successful penetration of Western computer networks was not fully clear, nor was the Kremlin's ultimate intent.

For over twenty years, GCHQ has been tracking the key Russian cyber attack groups and today's joint UK-U.S. alert shows that the threat has not gone away.

A spokesperson for the Russian Embassy in London said: "We consider these accusations and speculations as striking examples of a reckless, provocative and unfounded policy against Russia".

"We know that they were behind these attacks".

Mr Martin said authorities had been tracking the campaign for about a year and the tactics behind them for longer.

By observing login banners presented by the devices, and fingerprinting the data returned by scanning, the hackers were able to identify the routers and switches, as well as the organisations they were installed at.

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