Russia accused of massive global attack on computer routers

Treasury Sanctions Iranian Cyber Actors for Malicious Cyber-Enabled Activities Targeting Hundreds of Universities

While the United Kingdom and USA have been quick to point fingers in the direction of the Kremlin, the Russia Embassy has denied any involvement and has slammed the "accusations" as "striking examples of a reckless, provocative and unfounded policy against Russia". Russian state-sponsored hackers are using the attacks to conduct espionage and to steal intellectual property, the countries said.

Globally, this effort had targeted millions of machines to spy on ISP customers, organizations and government agencies.

"We have high confidence that Russian Federation has carried out a coordinated campaign to gain access to enterprise, small office, home office routers known as SOHO routers and residential routers, and the switches and connectors worldwide", said Rob Joyce, special assistant to the President and cybersecurity coordinator at the White House, speaking to journalists. 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".

The warning applies specifically to devices utilizing Generic Routing Encapsulation (GRE), Cisco Smart Install (SMI), and Simple Network Management Protocol (SNMP).

The joint warning stated stated that the main targets have been ISPs, firms running 'critical infrastructure, ' government departments and big companies.


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. While we don't know which bodies have been affected by the hack, the joint report contains detailed information about how the attacks work, and the resulting signs that the networks and hardware have been compromised.

"Russia is our most capable hostile adversary in cyberspace so dealing with their attacks is a major priority for the National Cyber Security Centre and our USA allies", he said.

The two sides did not give any examples of systems that had been broken into, but said those compromised risked losing data, identities, passwords and even control of their own systems. They contend that the campaign "threatens the safety, security, and economic well-being of the United States".

"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.

"It's a tremendous weapon in the hands of an adversary", echoed the FBI's Howard Marshall, the deputy assistant director of the cyber division.

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