Krem­lin in cy­ber at­tack on Brits

The Northern Star - - WORLD -

THE PUR­POSE OF THESE AT­TACKS COULD BE ES­PI­ONAGE, IT COULD BE THE THEFT OF IN­TEL­LEC­TUAL PROP­ERTY NA­TIONAL CY­BER SE­CU­RITY CEN­TRE

TENS of thou­sands of Bri­tish fam­i­lies’ com­put­ers have been tar­geted by Rus­sia – po­ten­tially pav­ing the way for a dev­as­tat­ing cy­ber at­tack, se­cu­rity chiefs warned yes­ter­day.

They fear the Krem­lin is try­ing to iden­tify vul­ner­a­bil­i­ties al­low­ing it to “lay a foun­da­tion for fu­ture of­fen­sive op­er­a­tions” that could crip­ple Britain.

The con­cern is that Rus­sia could take con­trol of these de­vices then use them to over­load vi­tal in­fras­truc­ture sys­tems such as banks, wa­ter sup­plies, en­ergy net­works, emer­gency ser­vices and even the armed forces.

A so-called “man in the mid­dle” at­tack could be car­ried out anony­mously be­cause the Gov­ern­ment would not know who had hacked into these sys­tems in UK homes.

Se­cu­rity chiefs said they feared Moscow-backed hack­ers were try­ing to cre­ate a “tremen­dous weapon” to un­leash in “times of ten­sion”.

Yes­ter­day Britain’s eaves­drop­ping agency GCHQ, the White House and the FBI launched an un­prece­dented joint alert about “ma­li­cious cy­ber ac­tiv­ity” car­ried out world­wide by the Krem­lin.

They warned Moscow was mount­ing a cam­paign to ex­ploit vul­ner­a­ble de­vices and threaten “our re­spec­tive safety, se­cu­rity and eco­nomic well­be­ing”. It fol­lowed a warn­ing on Sun­day that Rus­sian Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin was ready to re­tal­i­ate for the West­ern strike on Syria, where Bashar al-As­sad’s regime is backed by Rus­sia.

Britain has been track­ing the on­line ac­tiv­ity for more than a year, Ciaran Mar­tin of the Na­tional Cy­ber Se­cu­rity Cen­tre said.

Krem­lin-spon­sored ac­tors were said to be us­ing “com­pro­mised routers” to con­duct “spoof­ing” – when the at­tacker hides their iden­tity – to “sup­port es­pi­onage … and po­ten­tially lay a foun­da­tion for fu­ture of­fen­sive op­er­a­tions”.

In a highly un­usual trans-At­lantic tele­phone brief­ing, Mr Mar­tin said: “These are mil­lions of ma­chines be­ing glob­ally tar­geted. They are around try­ing to seize con­trol over con­nec­tiv­ity.

“In the case of tar­get­ing providers of in­ter­net ser­vices, it’s about gain­ing ac­cess to their cus­tomers to try to gain con­trol over the de­vices. The pur­pose of these at­tacks could be es­pi­onage, it could be the theft of in­tel­lec­tual prop­erty, it could be po­si­tion­ing for use in times of ten­sion.”

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