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PM accuses Russian Federation and Syria of trying to cover up chemical attack

17 April 2018

It warned everyone from internet service providers to home office customers to heed the warning, after the government agencies found cyber attacks targetting devices such as internet routers.

The White House in February blamed Russian Federation for the devastating "NotPetya" cyber attack in 2017, joining the British Government in condemning Russian Federation for unleashing a virus that crippled parts of Ukraine's infrastructure and damaged computers across the globe.

Since 2015, the U.S. government has been receiving information from multiple sources - including private and public sector cyber security research organisations and allies - that cyber actors were exploiting large numbers of enterprise-class and residential routers and switches worldwide.

The Kremlin did not immediately respond to a request for comment late on Monday.

"We consider these accusations and speculations as striking examples of a reckless, provocative and unfounded policy against Russian Federation".

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The United States appears to be solidifying a hard-line position against that country.

Russian Federation had threatened to shoot down any missiles launched by the U.S. and its allies into Syria, after U.S. President Donald Trump had taunted Russian Federation earlier in the week on Twitter that it should "get ready" for missiles to begin firing.

"Essentially you've got Russian Federation exploiting vulnerabilities in Cisco routers to potentially conduct a whole range of activities, from espionage to pre-positioning for attacks on critical infrastructure", Mr Hanson said.

The US and United Kingdom have previously blamed Russian Federation for cyber-attacks such as the crippling attacks previous year that created disruption worldwide, including to the National Health Service, and an intrusion into the US energy grid.

"When we see malicious cyber activity, whether it be from the Kremlin or other malicious nation-state actors, we are going to push back", said Rob Joyce, the White House cybersecurity coordinator. However, none of the three nations have made public the evidence they might have proving a link between the Syrian government and the April 7 attack.

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"This is yet another example of Russia's disregard for worldwide norms and global order this time through a campaign of cyber espionage and aggression, which attempts to disrupt governments and destabilise business", a British government spokesman said.

The Russian government on Monday denied tampering with the site of a suspected chemical attack in Syria before investigators could enter the area.

The attacks have targeted millions of computer networks worldwide through equipment such as routers, switches and firewalls, according to the officials from the White House, Department of Homeland Security and Federal Bureau of Investigation, and counterparts in Britain.

Shortly after the announcement, the White House said Joyce would leave his post and return to the U.S. National Security Agency.

In an extraordinary joint statement, authorities in the United States and the UK revealed that Russian Federation has been probing the cyber-defences to identify vulnerabilities that will "lay a foundation for future offensive operations".

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PM accuses Russian Federation and Syria of trying to cover up chemical attack