Cisco Systems Inc on Wednesday warned that hackers have infected at least 500،000 routers and storage devices in dozens of countries with highly sophisticated malicious software، possibly in preparation for another massive cyber attack on Ukraine، Alarabiya reported.
Cisco's Talos cyber intelligence unit said it has high confidence that the Russian government is behind the campaign، dubbed VPNFilter، because the hacking software shares code with malware used in previous cyber attacks that the US government has attributed to Moscow.
Cisco said the malware could be used for espionage، to interfere with internet communications or launch destructive attacks on Ukraine، which has previously blamed Russia for massive hacks that took out parts of its energy grid and shuttered factories.
“With a network like this you could do anything،” Cisco researcher Craig Williams told Reuters.
The Russian government has vehemently denied assertions by Ukraine، the United States، other nations and western cyber-security firms that the Kremlin is behind a massive global hacking program، which has included attempts to harm Ukraine”s economy and interfering in the 2016 US presidential election.
The warning about the malware - which includes a module that targets industrial networks like ones that operate the electric grid - will be amplified by alerts from members of the Cyber Threat Alliance (CTA)، a nonprofit group that promotes the fast exchange of data on new threats between rivals in the cyber security industry.
Members include Cisco، Check Point Software Technologies Ltd، Fortinet Inc Palo Alto Networks Inc، Sophos Group Plc and Symantec Corp.
“We should be taking this pretty seriously،” CTA Chief Executive Officer Michael Daniel said in an interview.