Apr 16, 2018, 3:44 PM ET

US and UK blame Russia for cyber hacks on internet routers worldwide

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The White House, FBI, Department of Homeland Security and British officials announced Monday that Russian state-sponsored actors targeted millions of internet routers in the United States, the United Kingdom and worldwide.

US and UK officials said that they have "high confidence" that cyber actors supported by the Russian government have carried out a coordinated campaign to gain access to these routers.

"It provides basic infrastructure that they can launch from,” one top U.S. official said.

The "purpose of these attacks could be espionage, it could be the theft of intellectual property, and of course, it could be pre-positioning for use in times of tension," said Ciaran Martin, Chief Executive of the UK's National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC).

The operation targeted government and private organizations, including even small businesses and residential homes, and also allowed the Russian-sponsored actors to go after "high-value targets," an official said.

Officials from the U.S. and U.K. said that for nearly a year now they have been investigating the massive cyber hacking of routers found in homes and business across the U.S. and U.K.

"This is a global threat," said top DHS official, Jeanette Manfra. "Once you own the router, you own the traffic."

This type of attack allows hackers to monitor modify and deny traffic; and it allows them to harvest credentials and passwords of unsuspecting users, explained officials.

The operation involved a “sustained targeting of multiple entities” over several months, said Martin.

Specifically, the hackers were exploiting default passwords on users’ routers, and exploiting unsecured devices in homes and business.

One way to protect against this is for Americans and others to change the passwords on their routers, the officials said. The FBI said it is asking the public for help to "remediate" these vulnerabilities, and the Trump administration’s cyber czar, Rob Joyce, said the U.S. government needs the public’s help to "undercut the Russian capability to use this as a tool against the world."

This is the first time that the U.S. and U.K. governments have issued a joint bulletin on this matter.

News - US and UK blame Russia for cyber hacks on internet routers worldwide

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  • muttonchops

    I'm not sure there is much the average person can do about this as routers are usually passworded by the internet provider. The best thing is to ask your provider if they can offer a solution to let you password your own router.
    Failing that you could try a firewall that you program yourself (not Microsoft) or a anti virus that filters your router but I don't think that software has been written yet.
    This is something the internet provider is going to have to fix.

  • SouthernCT

    Cyber security is a huge deal at the Federal, Corporate, and personal level.

  • rightened

    So where's the PRESIDENT to speak out about this? Oh, wait, he was too busy rejecting the sanctions against Russia, the day after he said he'd invoke them.

    Flip-flops so much, he ought to be at the beach.

  • Believer

    Seems the russians are desperate to help comrade Donald AGAIN. LOCK HIM UP!

  • Peet_Moss

    Am I being picky, or should MAYBE the author provided specifics as to what the FBI is asking?
    Note that all of you who provide answers are doing what the author failed to do, suppose A, suppose B........

  • Prophet With Honor

    Routers in private homes? What th'...?

  • Susan

    My routers immediately get a password of my own chosing. But I am wondering if at least some of these fraudulant calls from ''Your Technician"' or "'Microsoft" aren't part of this. My stuff is secured and they have been running me nuts.

  • peteringa

    Maybe it would be inconvenient but security should come first. We need to get ahead of this problem, not play catch-up. Systems should be designed to require strong passwords to be put in service, Windows should focus on doing things right, not just doing everything imaginable.

  • Mari Marigold

    Breaking News: President Trump didn't issue additional sanctions against Russia Monday,
    directly contradicting an announcement by his United Nations
    ambassador.

    UN Ambassador Nikki Haley said Sunday night that sanctions would be
    announced Monday against Russian manufacturers who produced equipment
    believed to have been used by the Syrian government in its deadly
    chemical attacks on its own people.

    But, as Moscow railed against the upcoming sanctions, Trump backpedaled
    on the announcement, telling his national security advisers late Sunday
    that he wasn't comfortable with imposing them, several people familiar
    with the matter told the Washington Post. The sources said Trump was upset by Haley's announcement.