UK, US, and Australia blame Russia for global cyber attack

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By Sallyann Nicholls
UK, US, and Australia blame Russia for global cyber attack
Copyright  PIXABAY

Security officials in the UK, US and Australia have accused Russia of hacking into machines and using them as part of an espionage campaign against the West since 2015.

According to a joint statement between British intelligence, the FBI, the White House National Security Council and Homeland Security on Monday, Russian “cyber actors” had compromised routers, which are used to connect computers to the internet, to breach security systems and steal information.

Millions of devices belonging to government offices, internet service providers and critical infrastructure operators were affected, the statement continued.

The FBI had "high confidence" this was done to “support espionage, extract intellectual property, maintain persistent access to victim networks, and potentially lay a foundation for future offensive operations”, the statement read.

Australia later joined forces with the UK and US, saying 400 of their companies had also been caught up in Russian state-sponsored attacks that were identified in August.

"We know that they were behind these attacks and that’s a very important escalation," Fergus Hanson from Canberra’s International Cyber Policy Centre told ABC News.

When asked if further action would be taken, he said: “The most important thing at this point is to attribute it. To say we know where this came from … and it's unacceptable behaviour."

An investigation into the global "mass hacking" began three years ago after cybersecurity workers and allies informed the US government that “large numbers” of enterprise and residential routers worldwide had been hacked by an unknown entity.

“The U.S. Government assesses that cyber actors supported by the Russian government carried out this worldwide campaign,” the statement concludes.

The latest flurry of hacking allegations against Russia are among many being levied at Vladimir Putin’s administration. In February, Britain blamed the Kremlin for unleashing the “NotPetya” cyber attack last year that crippled parts of Ukraine’s infrastructure and spread around the world. US officials have also long accused Russia of hacking into email accounts and servers belonging to Democrat politicians, and leaking sensitive information to sway the US presidential election to the Republicans’ favour in 2016. 

Moscow has strongly denied the claims.