In Brief

Millions of web users targeted by Russia, intelligence agencies warn

UK and US claim Kremlin behind hacking of millions of home and business routers

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Russia has targeted “critical Western internet-based infrastructure” in an effort to “conduct espionage and intellectual property theft”, according to UK and US officials.

In a rare joint statement, the UK’s National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC), the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) said yesterday that state-sponsored Russian hackers have targeted network devices inside government organisations, private industry and critical infrastructure operators. Even internet routers in small offices and homes are at risk, the agencies said.

UK and US intelligence have been warning for months that “Moscow is attempting to compromise electricity grids and other infrastructure such as banks, hospitals and air traffic control systems”, reports the Financial Times. However, this is “the first time the allies have issued specific guidance to civilians and companies on how to protect themselves”. 

The new guidelines include advice on password and device security.

Ciaran Martin, chief executive of the NCSC - an arm of British intelligence agency GCHQ - told The Independent that Russia was the West’s “most capable hostile adversary in cyberspace”, and that “the purpose of these attacks could be espionage, the theft of intellectual property, and they could be positioned for use in times of tension”.

He added: “There are millions of machines being globally targeted, trying to seize control over connectivity.”

In a statement emailed to Forbes, a spokesperson for the Russian embassy in London said: “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.

“Given that in recent days the British media, instigated by official statements, has again started to exploit the issue of 'cyberthreats from Russia', impression grows that the British public is being prepared for a massive cyberattack by the UK against Russia, that will purport to be of a retaliatory nature, but would in fact constitute unprovoked use of force.

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

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