Russia has hacked into millions of computers across Britain, including home terminals and internet routers, and may be preparing for a widescale cyber attack, US and UK security chiefs said in an unprecedented warning last night.
The UK National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) combined with the FBI and the US Department of Homeland Security issued a formal alert about “malicious cyber activity” by Russian operatives.
Officials said the activity had been under observation for “some time” and was not directly related to missile strikes on Syria.
However, NCSC chief executive Ciaran Martin said it was a “significant moment” in the fightback against Russian aggression in cyberspace, while the White House vowed to use “all elements of national power” to combat the threat.
Mr Martin said internet companies were being offered advice to counter the threat. The joint UK-US statement warned of the “sustained targeting of multiple entities” over a series of months, with Russian state-sponsored actors using “compromised routers” to “support espionage… and potentially lay a foundation for future offensive operations”.
A UK government spokesman said it was “yet another example of Russia’s disregard for international norms and global order – this time through a campaign of cyber espionage and aggression, which attempts to disrupt governments and de-stabilise business. The attribution of this malicious activity sends a clear message to Russia – we know what you are doing and you will not succeed.”