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These attacks target government, the private sector and critical infrastructure, as well as the Internet Service Providers (ISPs) providing support to these sectors, with attacks across the globe on network infrastructure devices including routers, switches, firewalls, Network Intrusion Detection Systems (NIDS). It has also been suggested that compromised hardware might not only allow hackers to gain access to user information, but it could also be used as a foundation for future attacks.

"We have high confidence that Russian Federation has carried out a coordinated campaign to compromise. routers, residential and business - the things you and I have in our home", said Rob Joyce, the White House cybersecurity coordinator.

The US and British governments said they planned to provide technical details on the attacks so that organisations can determine whether they have been hacked and thwart similar future hacking attempts.

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The west is accusing Russian Federation of an espionage-driven malicious cyberoffensive, and the Technical Alert - which comes following a joint effort between the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), and the UK's National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) - warns that both governmental and residential hardware is being targeted to "potentially lay a foundation for future offensive operations".

"It is not necessarily the case that you are trying to steal data all the time, conduct espionage, there are reasons you might want to be inside a network and it could be to conduct an offensive operation at a time of your choosing", he said.

It's warned that a Russian government campaign to exploit these devices threatens safety, security, and economic well-being of the United States and the UK.

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Britain's National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC), the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) issued a joint alert on April 16, warning that the global campaign could be escalated to launch future offensive attacks.

"Russia is our most capable hostile adversary in cyberspace", said Ciaran Martin, chief executive officer of Britain's NCSC.

The unusual public warning from the White House, US agencies and Britain's National Cyber Security Center follows a years-long effort to monitor the threat.

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"It's a tremendous weapon in the hands of an adversary", echoed the FBI's Howard Marshall, the deputy assistant director of the cyber division. Hanson added that Australia, US and the United Kingdom may have known about Russia's connection, but they sat quietly on the intelligence in a bid to understand Russia's methods. Britain's GCHQ intelligence agency had already warned that Russian Federation was using its cyber capabilities to target democracies.

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