Russia ‘is planning hacking attack on Britain’
Unprecedented joint warning from agencies
ONGOING RUSSIAN hacking of online defences could lay a foundation for a cyber-attack on critical national infrastructure in Britain and the United States which threatens the countries’ safety and economies, security agencies warned in an unprecedented joint statement last night.
It came as Theresa May accused Moscow of colluding in an attempted cover-up of the chemical weapons attack in Syria which led to UK, US and French missile strikes on the Kremlin-allied regime of Bashar Assad.
As the Prime Minister defended her decision to join in the strikes without parliamentary approval, the UK National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC), FBI and the US Department of Homeland Security issued a joint “technical alert” setting out “malicious cyber activity” by the Russian government. It warned that Russian state-sponsored actors are using “compromised routers” to conduct hacking attacks to “support espionage, extract intellectual property, maintain persistent access to victim networks and potentially lay a foundation for future offensive operations”.
The agencies said Russian targets include critical national infrastructure providers, government and private-sector organisations, as well as internet service providers, with hacking directed at network infrastructure around the world such as routers and firewalls.
The state of US and UK network devices, coupled with a Russian campaign to exploit them, “threatens our respective safety, security and economic wellbeing”, the agencies said.
NCSC chief executive Ciaran Martin said: “This is the first time that in attributing a cyber-attack to Russia the US and the UK have, at the same time, issued joint advice to industry about how to manage the risks from attacks.
“It marks an important step in our fight back against state-sponsored aggression in cyberspace.”
It came amid a diplomatic storm as the Office for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) said Syrian and Russian officials were preventing a fact-finding mission from reaching Douma, where 75 people are thought to have died in the attack the UK and its allies blame on the Assad regime. In the Commons, Mrs May said: “The Syrian regime has reportedly been attempting to conceal the evidence by searching evacuees from Douma to ensure samples are not being smuggled from this area and a wider operation to conceal the facts of the attack is under way, supported by the Russians.”