Russia Accused of Global ‘Hack Attacks’ Against Critical Infrastructure

    Updated: April 17, 2018 at 10:59 am EST  See Comments

    Officials in the United States and the United Kingdom are reporting that state-sponsored hackers are attempting to hijack insurmountably important internet hardware.

    Both the US and the UK are reportedly claiming that Russia is behind the attempts, which come days after The West launched strikes against Syria for its utilization of chemical weapons against its people.

    Russia stated that they would respond to such actions with force, and since the strikes against Syria, US officials have claimed that there has been a two thousand percent increase in state-sponsored trolls lurking the internet.

    UK’s National Cyber Security Center (NCSC), the FBI and the US Department of Homeland Security issued a joint alert regarding the critical infrastructure. Under threat are gigantic data cables which move traffic across the internet.

    Alert (TA18-106A)

    Systems Affected

    • Generic Routing Encapsulation (GRE) Enabled Devices
    • Cisco Smart Install (SMI) Enabled Devices
    • Simple Network Management Protocol (SNMP) Enabled Network Devices


    This joint Technical Alert (TA) is the result of analytic efforts between the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), and the United Kingdom’s National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC). This TA provides information on the worldwide cyber exploitation of network infrastructure devices (e.g., router, switch, firewall, Network-based Intrusion Detection System (NIDS) devices) by Russian state-sponsored cyber actors. Targets are primarily government and private-sector organizations, critical infrastructure providers, and the Internet service providers (ISPs) supporting these sectors. This report contains technical details on the tactics, techniques, and procedures (TTPs) used by Russian state-sponsored cyber actors to compromise victims. Victims were identified through a coordinated series of actions between U.S. and international partners. This report builds on previous DHS reporting and advisories from the United Kingdom, Australia, and the European Union. [1-5] This report contains indicators of compromise (IOCs) and contextual information regarding observed behaviors on the networks of compromised victims. FBI has high confidence that Russian state-sponsored cyber actors are using compromised routers to conduct man-in-the-middle attacks to support espionage, extract intellectual property, maintain persistent access to victim networks, and potentially lay a foundation for future offensive operations.

    DHS, FBI, and NCSC urge readers to act on past alerts and advisories issued by the U.S. and U.K. Governments, allied governments, network device manufacturers, and private-sector security organizations. Elements from these alerts and advisories have been selected and disseminated in a wide variety of security news outlets and social media platforms. The current state of U.S. network devices—coupled with a Russian government campaign to exploit these devices—threatens the safety, security, and economic well-being of the United States.

    The purpose of this TA is to inform network device vendors, ISPs, public-sector organizations, private-sector corporations, and small office home office (SOHO) customers about the Russian government campaign, provide information to identify malicious activity, and reduce exposure to this activity.

    Download a copy of The Alert From US-CERT

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