USA and United Kingdom issue joint alert warning of Russian cyber attacks

An RAF Tornado prepares to take off from RAF Akrotiri in Cyprus to take part in the Syrian air strikes

"It is our understanding the Russians may have visited the attack site", US Ambassador Kenneth Ward said at a meeting of the OPCW in The Hague on Monday. The main advice offered to companies and individuals was to make sure router software was up to date and passwords were secure.

The statement (via Forbes) says Russian Federation is carrying out the operations "to support espionage, extract intellectual property, maintain persistent access to victim networks and potentially lay a foundation for future offensive operations".

They cited cyber security research organisations and other governments as providing evidence of such attacks, without providing details of their timing or scale.

"The UK government will continue to work with the United States, other worldwide allies and industry partners to expose Russia's unacceptable cyber behaviour, so they are held accountable for their actions", Ciaran Martin, CEO of the UK's National Cyber Security Centre said. "We can't rule out Russian Federation may attempt to use this [hacked] infrastructure for further attacks". The announcement has come amid heightened tensions between the two countries and Russian Federation.

It followed a series of warnings by Western governments that Moscow is behind a string of cyber attacks. "Therefore allegations of this towards Russian Federation are groundless", Peskov said.

"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. "We condemn this latest activity in the strongest possible terms. But this is the first time the United Kingdom has systematically and persistently degraded an adversary's online efforts as part of a wider military campaign", he said. "We are evaluating but nothing to announce right now", she said. "And as with all of our work, we only use them in line with domestic and global law, when our tests of necessity and proportionality have been satisfied, and with all the usual oversight in place".

As well as facing MPs' questions, she will also take the unusual step of calling an urgent debate - although this is expected to fall far short of an explicit vote on the military action demanded by some in the Commons.

However, the inspection comes after the United States, France and the United Kingdom attacked Syria with the announced objective of destroying facilities that produce chemical weapons, for which they used the alleged incident in Duma as a pretext.

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