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Russia Dismisses Rare US-British Warning on Hackers

FILE - A man types on a computer keyboard in this illustration, Feb. 28, 2013.
FILE - A man types on a computer keyboard in this illustration, Feb. 28, 2013.

Russia has rejected allegations from the United States and Britain that Russian-backed hackers are escalating cyberattacks on American and British companies, government operations and infrastructure.

"We don't know what these new accusations are based on," said Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov. He told reporters during a regularly scheduled media briefing that London and Washington have not presented any evidence, and dismissed the accusations as "groundless" and "unjustified."

Washington and London said the widespread, global campaign began in 2015 and could be expanded to launch offensive attacks.

The warning came from the Department of Homeland Security, the FBI and Britain’s National Cyber Security Center, and included advice about what companies can do to protect themselves.

American and British officials said the attacks affected a wide range of organizations including Internet service providers, private businesses and critical infrastructure providers. They did not identify any victims or provide details on the impact of the attacks.

‘Nation-state actors’

"Russian state-sponsored actors are using compromised routers to conduct spoofing 'man-in-the-middle' attacks to support espionage, extract intellectual property, maintain persistent access to victim networks and potentially lay a foundation for future offensive operations," a joint statement warned.

"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 cyber security coordinator.

Previously, the two nations have spoken only of attacks “originating from Russia,” with lines between Russian criminals and state activity being blurred, but they pinned blame on the Kremlin on this occasion.

The officials said they issued the alert to help targets protect themselves and persuade victims to share information with government investigators so they can better understand the threat.