RUSSIA has hacked into thousands of laptops and PCs in UK homes to prepare for a major cyber attack, security experts say.
Britainâs GCHQ and the USâs FBI issued the warning yesterday amid fears of retaliation over Syria.
The experts say the hackers will stay undiscovered on domestic laptops, computers and smartphones before using unsuspecting homeownersâ wifi routers to coordinate an attack on Britainâs infrastructure.
Under the massive assault, lurking Moscow hackers have infiltrated the routers to use them for âman-in-the-middleâ attacks as a springboard to penetrate other targets, such as the national grid or the NHS.
As well cyber attacks, the hackers are also trying to spy as well as steal intellectual property.
The British warning came from the eavesdropping spy agency GCHQâs public protection wing, the National Cyber Security Centre.
Its directorâs Ciaran Martin dubbed the joint statement a âsignificant moment in the transatlantic fightback against Russian aggression in cyber securityâ.
Mr Martin added: âWe have been tracking some of these attacks for around a year and the attack groups behind them for longer than that.
âIn terms of the scale, there are millions of machines that have been globally targeted.
âItâs about trying to gain control over the devices to allow them not just to spy on the primary organisation but the organisations they connect to.â
The FBIâs Deputy Assistant Director Howard Marshall added: âToday we are asking the public to continue their engagement by better understanding these vulnerabilities.
âWe will continue to follow the actions of our Russian adversaries and we will bring every tool to bear against them in every corner of cyber space.â
Advice to firms and organisations includes updating passwords for routers and not relying on manufacturersâ settings.
The public declaration was also made to heap pressure on the Kremlin, after it was feared President Putin will retaliate against his spy expulsions following the Salisbury nerve agent poisoning with cyber attacks.
Theresa May reinforced the warnings. The PM told the Commons: âEverybody should think very carefully about the role Russia is playing, not just in Syria but also destabilising activities, propaganda, cyber attacksâ.
A Government spokesperson added: âThis is yet another example of Russiaâs disregard for international norms and global order â this time through a campaign of cyber espionage and aggression, which attempts to disrupt governments and de-stabilise business.
âThe attribution of this malicious activity sends a clear message to Russia â we know what you are doing and you will not succeed.
âThis Government will stand steadfast alongside its allies to counter this threat and our world-leading experts at the National Cyber Security Centre will continue to strengthen our cyber security capabilities and protect UK interests.â