According to senior security experts, Russia is now preparing for a cyber attack on the United Kingdom’s critical infrastructure targeting millions of laptops and phones in the UK.
They warned that after gaining unauthorized access to the devices, the malware could hide itself on the devices undetected until Moscow decides to attack.
FBI and GCHQ said that this is a retaliation for the US-led airstrikes to which the UK was a part. The report furthermore stated that the cyber-strike is planned against Britain’s energy networks, armed forces, and emergency services.
In a joint statement, the UK and US authorities said, ‘The government is patching the vulnerabilities that could potentially lay a foundation for future offensive operations.’
Ciaran Martin, CEO of the National Cyber Security Centre, said: ‘They are around trying to seize control over connectivity so, in the case of targeting providers of internet services, it is about gaining access to their customers to try to gain control over the devices to allow them not just to spy on the primary organisation but the organisations they connect to.’
White House cybersecurity coordinator Rob Joyce said: ‘Once you own the router, you own all the traffic to include the ability to harvest credentials and passwords and essentially monitor all the traffic.
‘It is a tremendous weapon in the hands of an adversary.’
While Mr. Martin said that the target of attack could be everything ranging from large enterprises to small home offices.
Mr. Joyce said: ‘When we see malicious cyber activity, whether it be from the Kremlin or other nation-state actors, we are going to push back.’
FBI Deputy Assistant Director Howard Marshall added: ‘This activity isn’t always to steal information from the network that is targeted in these operations, but sometimes used to facilitate other operations that the Russians can do against high-value targets worldwide.
He continued: ‘We can’t rule out the possibility Russia may intend to use this set of compromises for future offensive cyber operations.
‘It provides basic infrastructure that they can launch from.’
The officials claim that the move has been planned for quite some time and may not be directly related to the air strikes.