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US, Britain warn of Russian campaign to hack networks

AFP  |  London 

Russian government-sponsored hackers are compromising the key hardware of government and like routers and firewalls, giving them virtual control of data flows, Britain and the warned.

The operation was "to support espionage, extract intellectual property, maintain persistent access to victim networks and potentially lay a foundation for future offensive operations," and said in a joint statement.

"Whoever controls the routing infrastructure of a essentially controls the data flowing through the "

The said the hacking was part of a broad operation dubbed Grizzly Steppe, which DHS says comprises concerting cyberattacks by Moscow's civilian and military intelligence agencies.

The hacking operation has targeted both government and private sector groups, and the key providers of infrastructure and serving them.

The announcement came in an unprecedented joint alert that underscored closer cooperation between Western governments fighting what they say is an ongoing, multifaceted hacking and by

The alert came from the Britain's National Cyber Security Centre, DHS and the

In came after more than one year of separate warnings over the attempted hacking of key infrastructure like power and in Western countries.

The two sides did not give any examples of systems that had been broken into, but said those compromised risked losing data, identities, passwords and even control of their own systems.

The hacking effort goes to the critical components of a computer network: the routers, switches and firewalls designed to safely and accurate deliver data from one computer to another.

Taking over a virtually would give a hacker the ability to manipulate, divert or stop any data from going through it. In an operation like an electric power plant, the hacker could shut down the service or physically damage a plant.

A hacker could also "potentially lay a foundation for future offensive operations," the joint alert said.

"The current state of US and UK network devices, coupled with a campaign to exploit these devices, threatens our respective safety, security, and economic well-being," it said.

Both countries have accused of concerted efforts to use to interfere with public affairs, particularly with the British Brexit referendum and US in 2016.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Tue, April 17 2018. 09:35 IST