FBI warns Russians hacked hundreds of thousands of routers

File photo showing a man holds a laptop computer as cyber code is projected on him in this illustration picture taken, May 13, 2017. (Reuters)
Updated 25 May 2018
0

FBI warns Russians hacked hundreds of thousands of routers

WASHINGTON: The FBI warned on Friday that Russian computer hackers had compromised hundreds of thousands of home and office routers and could collect user information or shut down network traffic.
The US law enforcement agency urged the owners of many brands of routers to turn them off and on again and download updates from the manufacturer to protect themselves.
The warning followed a court order Wednesday that allowed the FBI to seize a website that the hackers planned to use to give instructions to the routers. Though that cut off malicious communications, it still left the routers infected, and Friday’s warning was aimed at cleaning up those machines.
Infections were detected in more than 50 countries, though the primary target for further actions was probably Ukraine, the site of many recent infections and a longtime cyberwarfare battleground.
In obtaining the court order, the Justice Department said the hackers involved were in a group called Sofacy that answered to the Russian government.
Sofacy, also known as APT28 and Fancy Bear, has been blamed for many of the most dramatic Russian hacks, including that of the Democratic National Committee during the 2016 US presidential campaign.
Earlier, Cisco Systems Inc. said the hacking campaign targeted devices from Belkin International’s Linksys, MikroTik, Netgear Inc, TP-Link and QNAP.
Cisco shared the technical details of its investigation with the US and Ukrainian governments. Western experts say Russia has conducted a series of attacks against companies in Ukraine for more than a year amid armed hostilities between the two countries, causing hundreds of millions of dollars in damages and at least one electricity blackout.
The Kremlin on Thursday denied the Ukrainian government’s accusation that Russia was planning a cyberattack on Ukrainian state bodies and private companies ahead of the Champions League soccer final in Kiev on Saturday.
“The size and scope of the infrastructure by VPNFilter malware is significant,” the FBI said, adding that it is capable of rendering peoples’ routers “inoperable.”
It said the malware is hard to detect, due to encryption and other tactics.
The FBI urged people to reboot their devices to temporarily disrupt the malware and help identify infected devices.
People should also consider disabling remote-management settings, changing passwords and upgrading to the latest firmware.


EU minister ‘nervous’ time running out for Brexit deal

Updated 3 min 4 sec ago
0

EU minister ‘nervous’ time running out for Brexit deal

BRUSSELS: European Union ministers met Friday to discuss gaps with Britain in the Brexit negotiations as Germany’s envoy admitted he was nervous time was running out for a deal.
EU Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier was due to brief the ministers on his talks with his new British counterpart Dominic Raab, after their first meeting on Thursday.
Raab took up the job after a rebellion against Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit blueprint, with the discord in London and slow pace of talks worrying many in Europe.
“Time is running out. The clock is ticking. That is why I’m a little bit nervous,” Germany’s European affairs minister Michael Roth said on arrival for the Brussels meeting.
Britain is set to leave the bloc on March 30, but the two sides want to strike an agreement by late October in order to give parliaments enough time to endorse a deal.
The European Commission, the EU’s executive arm, published a document on Thursday urging the remaining 27 member states and businesses to “step up preparations” for all outcomes, including the lack of deal.
It warned of disruptions, including to business supply chains.
Britons voted to leave the 28-nation bloc in June 2016, but negotiations were only launched a year later and have bogged down frequently since then.
Raab said in Brussels on Thursday he looked forward to “intensifying, heating up” the Brexit negotiations.
May’s blueprint would see Britain ask the EU for a free trade area for goods through a “facilitated customs arrangement” alongside a “common rulebook.”
EU ministers welcomed some but not all parts of the blueprint.
They listed as a top concern the lack of progress on the future of the border between EU member Ireland and the British province of Northern Ireland.
Under its guidelines, the EU stipulates there should be no “hard border,” such as customs checks, in order to preserve the gains of the Irish peace process.
“We have no solution yet” on Ireland, Luxembourg’s minister Jean Asselborn told reporters.
“And if we can’t find a solution, I don’t know how to bring Brexit to the goal,” Asselborn said.
Standing with Raab on Thursday, Barnier said there were only 13 months to finalize a withdrawal agreement.
“It is a matter of urgency to agree on a legally operative backstop for Ireland and northern Ireland. We need an all weather insurance policy,” he said.