Monday, 20 May, 2019


Russian hackers start targeting critical United Kingdom national infrastructure

An RAF Tornado prepares to take off from RAF Akrotiri in Cyprus to take part in the Syrian air strikes Camera Icon An RAF Tornado prepares to take off from RAF Akrotiri in Cyprus to take part in the Syrian air
Bennie Garza | 18 April, 2018, 21:53

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the UK's National Cyber Security Centre released a joint Technical Alert providing "information on the worldwide cyber exploitation of network infrastructures" by Russian Federation.

The US and British governments said they planned to provide technical details on the attacks so that organisations can determine whether they have been hacked and thwart similar future hacking attempts.

Jeanette Manfra, National Protection and Programs Directorate (NPPD) Assistant Secretary for Cybersecurity and Communications said: "Russian government activities continue to threaten our respective safety, security, and the very integrity of our cyber ecosystem".

The joint statement comes amid worsening relations between the two countries and Moscow, after Washington and London launched coordinated strikes against Russia's ally Syria.

In a press conference about the alert, White House cyber-security co-ordinator Rob Joyce said the U.S. and its allies had "high confidence" that Russian Federation was behind the "broad campaign". "But I can say that other attacks are directly targeted at the UK Government and critical, national services".

"Grizzly Steppe": The US Department of Homeland Security separately said the attack was part of a larger Russian-backed operation called "Grizzly Steppe".

Ciaran Martin, head of the NCSC, said Russian Federation was: "our most capable hostile adversary in cyber-space, so dealing with their attacks is a major priority for the National Cyber Security Centre and our U.S. allies". For this reason, we can not rule out that Russian may intend to use this set of compromises for future offensive cyber operations as well.

The announcement was characterized as just one step in a series of actions planned by the USA and British government.

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.

"These incidents are unacceptable and the Australian government calls on all countries, including Russian Federation, not to take actions that could lead to damage of critical infrastructure that provide services to the public". From there, they can use the discovered weak devices to extract information critical to the security of a network, such as vulnerable devices and login credentials.

In a statement given to Forbes, a Russian Embassy spokesperson rejected the claims: "We are disappointed by the fact that such serious claims have been made publicly, without any proof being presented and without any attempt by the United Kingdom to clarify the situation with the Russian side in the first place".

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