The United States and Britain on Monday warned against a global cyber attack, which they blame on Russian-backed hackers.
Washington and London have issued a joint statement to warn of the dangers of a major hacking campaign launched in 2015, which they believe could worsen.
Two months ago, the two countries had already accused Russia of leading the cyber attack in 2017 using NotPetya ransomware, which paralyzed some Ukrainian infrastructure before damaging computers around the world.
US and UK officials said the attacks have affected a wide range of organizations, including Internet service providers, private companies and key players in the infrastructure sector.
No details regarding the victims or the consequences of these attacks have been provided.
“When we see malicious computer activity, whether it’s from the Kremlin or some other malicious state actor, we do something about it,” said Rob Joyce, the White House’s computer security coordinator. The White House announced during the day that he would leave his post to return to the National Security Agency (NSA).
The Kremlin has not reacted to these allegations, but the Russian Embassy in London qualifies them in a statement “a striking example of the dangerous, provocative and unfounded policy” of the Western powers towards Moscow.
Last year, US intelligence agencies accused Moscow of interfering in the 2016 presidential election through hacking and a propaganda campaign to favor Republican candidate Donald Trump over his rival. Hillary Clinton, whose e-mails had been hacked.
The US administration also blamed last month on computer attacks launched in March 2016 or, even before, against the US energy and nuclear sectors, among others.
“Millions of machines” targeted
The announcement by London and Washington aims to help targets of the attack to protect themselves and persuade victims to share their information with government investigators so they can better identify the threat.
“We do not know the full extent of compromised data,” said Jeanette Manfra, head of cyber security at the Department of Homeland Security.
The alert is unrelated to the alleged chemical attack in Duma, near the Syrian capital, which prompted the United States to launch a military operation against Russian-backed infrastructure of the Russian-backed government of Bashar Al-Assad. said Rob Joyce.
US and UK officials have warned that infected routers could be used to conduct cyberattacks in the future.
“They could have been prepositioned for use in times of tension,” said Ciaran Martin, executive director of the UK government’s National Computer Security Center.
“Millions of machines” were targeted, he added.
According to a senior US administration official speaking on condition of anonymity, the number of Russian cyberattacks has greatly increased in recent years.
“It’s harder to trace, assign, and respond to immediately than when a missile is launched,” he said.