The US and the UK are warning of a massive cyber attack by Russian hackers. The two governments say that the Russians are trying to take control of routers inside government agencies and other critical infrastructure. The attack is also targeting companies based in the US and the UK as well as home offices.
The warning came from the National Security Council, a British intelligence agency that issued a joint statement with the US Department of Homeland Security and the FBI. The statement says that there was “high confidence” that Russia was behind the attacks. The intelligence body also revealed that it had been tracking the cyber attacks for one year. The US, on the other hand, claims that the attacks had started back in 2015.
According to the UK’s National Cyber Security Council, the attacks were designed to intercept data sent through routers from personal computers to servers. The ultimate goal was to support Russian espionage and theft of intellectual property. Millions of computers were targeted during the hack. This is the first time that the UK and the US have issued a joint response to alleged Russian cyber attacks.
The US government has also blamed the Kremlin for the NotPetya ransomware that took down major corporations in the west including FedEx and Maersk. Russia was also accused of hacking the Democratic National Committee (DNC) on the run-up to the 2016 US election. Leaked emails from the DNC server associated with Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton are thought to have swayed American voters in the election that was surprisingly won by Donald Trump. There’s still an ongoing investigation on the matter.
The National Cyber Security Council in the UK said that it hopes the UK and the US will work together in order to prevent such attacks in the future. The Russians through their embassy in London issued a statement denying the allegations. The Kremlin termed the allegation as a consistent example of reckless and provocative unfounded policies against Russia. Moscow expressed its disappointment that such “serious allegations” were made without any proof. The statement went on to note that Russia doesn’t have any plans to conduct cyber attacks against the UK.
This recent accusation comes at a time when relations between the Kremlin and the west have significantly deteriorated. The UK has accused Moscow of using a deadly nerve agent to poison a former Russian spy in the UK city of Salisbury. The UK sees this as an act of Russian aggression but Moscow has so far denied everything. The UK was also part of a joint military operation with the US and France in launching missiles strikes against Syria, Moscow’s ally in the Middle East.
However, intelligence officials say that the recent cyber attack wasn’t related to the missile strikes, and this is something that has been going on for a while now. The NCSC also didn’t reveal specific names of departments or companies affected by the attack.