U.S., U.K. Warn of Russian Cyberattacks to Private Homes

April 18, 2018

The U.S. and Britain have issued a warning about Russian cyberattacks that could extend to individual homes. The warning was the first of its kind, The New York Times reports. The warning extends to possible cyberattacks to government and private organizations in both countries as well. 

The countries are asking the public to upgrade passwords and computer security to make themselves less vulnerable. 

Ciaran Martin, chief executive of Britain’s National Cyber Security Council, claims that Russia has targeted “millions” of devices in both the U.S. and U.K. and has accused Russia of hacking into individual homes and small businesses to take control of routers. 

“Once you've won the router, you own all the traffic, to include the chance to harvest credentials and passwords,” says Howard Marshall, deputy assistant director of the cyber division at the FBI. “It is a tremendous weapon in the hands of an adversary.”

U.S. and U.K. officials are warning that Russians are tapping into internet-connected devices in homes and businesses. They allege that hackers are secretly inserting themselves into the exchange of data between a computer or server to eavesdrop, collect confidential information, misdirect payments, and more. 

“When we see malicious cyberattacks, whether from the Kremlin or other nation-state actors, we are going to push back,” Rob Joyce, a special assistant to the president and cybersecurity coordinator for the National Security Council, said in a conference call with the media. 

Robert Hannigan, an executive with BlueVoyant, a cybersecurity firm, says the countries have found evidence of Russian infiltration in routers and deep inside networks for 20 years. “But this is about saying to the Russians, ‘We know where you are pre-positioned and if something happens, we will know it is you,” Hannigan says about the alert.  

The officials said that the full extent of Russia’s ability to penetrate Western computer networks is still unknown. 

The goal “is not always to steal information,” Joyce says. “Sometimes it is to facilitate other operations” or “for further aggressive acts.”

Source: “U.S.-U.K. Warning on Cyberattacks Includes Private Homes,” The New York Times (April 16, 2018)