The technical alert said the U.S. government had been receiving information that the cyber actors had been exploiting switches - named by the ACSC as "switches with Cisco Smart Install accessible from the internet, and routers or switches with Simple Network Management Protocol (SNMP) enabled and exposed to the internet" - since 2015.
Though the governments are not sure how many devices have been compromised by the hackers nor what the objective is, the targeting affects millions of devices globally, USA officials said on a call with reporters Monday morning.
"This is a global threat", said top DHS official, Jeanette Manfra.
"It's a tremendous weapon in the hands of an adversary", echoed the FBI's Howard Marshall, the deputy assistant director of the cyber division.
"We can't rule out that Russian Federation might intend to use this set of compromises for future offensive cyber operations as well, it provides basic infrastructure they can launch from". "Once you own the router, you own the traffic".
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Russian Federation is using compromised computer network equipment to attack US and British companies and government agencies, the two countries warned in an unprecedented joint alert.
It comes from United Kingdom and USA authorities who have issued a joint cybersecurity alert for the first time ever to warn people of the threat.
Russian Federation was behind the series of cyber attacks on up to 400 businesses in 2017, Australia has claimed. She said there were potentially about 400 private Australian companies affected.
For owners, they're asked to ensure network devices are up-to-date, change default passwords, and ensure the firmware on the device is from a trusted source.
This type of attack allows hackers to monitor modify and deny traffic; and it allows them to harvest credentials and passwords of unsuspecting users, explained officials.
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While the focus of the alert is how individuals and businesses, from the home office to large enterprises, can protect themselves from the attack, the goal was also calling out Russia's bad behavior, officials said. One: continuing the pressure campaign on nations that exploit others on the Internet.
"We have high confidence that Russian Federation has carried out a coordinated campaign to compromise. routers, residential and business - the things you and I have in our home", said Rob Joyce, the White House cybersecurity coordinator.
Martin said the attacks could be designed for spying, stealing intellectual property or possibly "prepositioning for use in times of heightened tension".
It was the two countries' first such joint alert.
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