A collage image with a silhouetted man in a black hooded top holding a laptop, a Russian flag with the colours white, blue and red, a yellow wifi signal logo and a black internet router. The background is lilac with binary code numbers over it.

The U.S. Justice Department has claimed it stopped a major Russian intelligence-controlled hacking network.

The FBI worked with international partners to disrupt the hacking operation that had infiltrated over 1,000 home and small business internet routers in the U.S. and abroad.

According to the Justice Department’s announcement on Thursday (Feb.15), Russian intelligence was collaborating with cybercriminals to create a network of hacked routers that could be used to spy on military, security, and private sector targets.

“The Justice Department is accelerating our efforts to disrupt the Russian government’s cyber campaigns against the United States and our allies, including Ukraine,” said Attorney General Merrick B. Garland.

He continued: “We will continue to disrupt and dismantle the Russian government’s malicious cyber tools that endanger the security of the United States and our allies.”

Russian hacking efforts

Just a day prior, the Biden administration notified Congress that intelligence suggests Russia is developing a space-based nuclear weapon aimed at U.S. satellites.

FBI Christopher Director Wray warned that Russia continues reconnaissance on critical infrastructure like underwater cables and industrial controls in the U.S. energy sector. He stated that “once access is established, a hacker can switch from information gathering to attack quickly and without notice.”

Wray also remarked: “The cyber threat posed by the Chinese government is massive. China’s hacking program is larger than that of every other major nation combined.”

The recent actions highlight what U.S. officials describe as an escalating pace of cyberattacks from major adversaries like Russia, China, and Iran.

In November, a  Kremlin-affiliated hacker group unleashed a USB-based cyber threat targeting primarily Ukrainian organizations. While in January, the U.S. government thwarted a sophisticated Chinese hacking campaign that posed a serious threat to critical American infrastructure networks.

As the war in Ukraine continues, Russian hacking efforts are expected to intensify.

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