Rus­sia ‘is plan­ning hack­ing at­tack on Bri­tain’

Un­prece­dented joint warn­ing from agen­cies

Yorkshire Post - - FRONT PAGE - ARJ SINGH WEST­MIN­STER CORRESPONDENT ■ Email: ■ Twit­ter: @sing­harj

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.”

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