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Hackers 'infect computer routers'

London: The US and UK on Monday alleged that Russian government-backed hackers have infected computer routers around the world in a cyber espionage campaign that targeted government agencies, businesses and critical infrastructure operators.

US and UK officials told reporters in a conference call that they plan to issue a joint alert on the attacks, which target routers that form a key part of the Internet infrastructure, in a cyber espionage campaign that could be levered in the future to launch offensive attacks.

"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.

US and UK officials said the infected routers could be leveraged to launch future offensive cyber operations.

"They could be pre-positioning for use in times of tension," said Ciaran Martin, chief executive of the British government's National Cyber Security Centre cyber defence agency, who added that "millions of machines" were targeted in the campaign.

The Russian attacks have affected a wide range of organisations including internet service providers, private-sector firms and critical infrastructure providers, the officials said. Martin said authorities have been tracking the campaign for about a year.

"We in the UK can independently corroborate all of the detection work in this report to validate the assessment of US colleagues," he said. Reuters

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