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US and UK accuse Russia of laying groundwork for massive cyber attack

The United Kingdom and the United States have claimed state-sponsored Russian hackers have been cracking into consumer internet equipment.

In a joint warning, the UK’s NCSC and the FBI and Department of Homeland Security in the United States alleged a “broad”, global campaign.

The two nations allege routers in government buildings as well as small offices could have fallen victim, while critical infrastructure and internet service providers could have also been compromised.

British intelligence has been tracking the interference with essential network hardware for a year, while the Americans expressed a “high confidence” Russian actors were responsible.

In the joint announcement the UK and US express concern the Russians may be laying the groundwork for a future cyber attack against the western allies.

The statement (via Forbes) says Russia is carrying out the operations “to support espionage, extract intellectual property, maintain persistent access to victim networks and potentially lay a foundation for future offensive operations.”

Rob Joyce of the National Security Council in the United States adds: “The actions you’re seeing today is one in a series of steps against this unacceptable activity. We can’t rule out Russia may attempt to use this [hacked] infrastructure for further attacks.”

Within the announcement, the two nations outline the potential threat, while attempting to push equipment makers towards shoring up their defences.

The accusations come at a time of dramatically increased tensions between Russia and the west.

A spokesperson for the Russian Embassy in London said: “We consider these accusations and speculations as striking examples of a reckless, provocative and unfounded policy against Russia. We are disappointed by the fact that such serious claims have been made publicly, without any proof being presented and without any attempt by the United Kingdom to clarify the situation with the Russian side in the first place.

“Russia is not planning to conduct any cyber attacks against the United Kingdom. We expect the British government to declare the same.”

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