United Kingdom and U.S. warn of Russian cyber-security threat

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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 joint missive was the first time the United States and UK governments have teamed up to put out such an alert.

This is the second time this year that the USA and United Kingdom have attributed cyberattacks on Russian Federation, following their unprecedented attribution in February of last year's extremely expensive NotPetya attack.

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"The performance of this malicious activity sends a clear message to Russian Federation".

According to the alert, "t$3 he targets of this malicious cyber activity are primarily government and private-sector organizations, critical infrastructure providers, and the internet service providers (ISPs) supporting these sectors". The hackers are also targeting the internet service providers that support these sectors, the statement said.

"The U.S. Government assesses that cyber actors supported by the Russian government carried out this worldwide campaign", the statement concludes. And two: "Encourage industry to secure the devices we depend on", White House cybersecurity coordinator Rob Joyce said. "We are pushing back and we are pushing back hard", he said.

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"Once you own the router, you own all the traffic, to include the chance to harvest credentials and passwords", said Howard Marshall, deputy assistant director of the cyber division at the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

"They could be pre-positioning for use in times of tension,"said Ciaran Martin, chief executive of the British government's National Cyber Security Centre cyber defense agency, who added that "millions of machines" were targeted in the campaign".

USA officials said they have been receiving information about "cyber actors" exploiting routers and switches across the globe since 2015 and determined it to be carried out by the Russian government.

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The months-long campaign saw hackers attempt to compromise "millions" of devices - including routers, switches, firewalls and network intrusion detection systems - and officials have claimed that the sustained effort could have been used for espionage, the theft of intellectual property or for "use in times of tension".

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