UK and US intelligence services warn Russia is behind a global router hacking campaign to steal official secrets

Intelligence agencies have revealed techniques used by Russia to lay foundations for “future offensive operations”

17 Apr 2018

Russian hackers been blamed for a large-scale campaign aimed at hijacking wireless routers, according to a report from UK and US intelligence agencies.

In a joint alert, the Department of Homeland Security, the FBI, and the UK’s National Cyber Security Centre revealed technical details of the “tactics, techniques, and procedures” used by Russian state-sponsored cyber actors.

Specifically, the report explains how the FBI is confident Russian hackers are using compromised routers to conduct “man-in-the-middle attacks”, which is where communications between two parties are secretly intercepted and sometimes altered.

And the report claims the attacks serve “to support espionage, extract intellectual property, maintain persistent access to victim networks, and potentially lay a foundation for future offensive operations.”

“The U.S. Government received information from multiple sources – including private and public sector cybersecurity research organisations and allies – that cyber actors are exploiting large numbers of enterprise-class and SOHO/residential routers and switches worldwide,” the organisations explain. “The U.S. Government assesses that cyber actors supported by the Russian government carried out this worldwide campaign.”

They continue that the current state of US network hardware means the Russian campaign represents a threat to the country’s “safety, security, and economic well-being”.

The purpose of the report, according to the intelligence agencies, is to provide hardware manufacturers, ISPs, public- and private-sector organisations and even small office home office (SOHO) customers with the necessary information to identify malicious activity, and to combat such activity.

As reported by the BBC, head of the NCSC Ciaran Martin said the alert marked a “significant moment”, because it was the first time the UK and US has offered joint advice on how to deal with a threat.

He added that the UK was working with the US, other allies and the tech industry to "expose Russia's unacceptable cyber-behaviour, so they are held accountable for their actions."

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