WASHINGTON • The FBI has warned that Russian computer hackers have compromised hundreds of thousands of home and office routers and could collect user information or shut down network traffic.
The United States law enforcement agency on Friday urged the owners of many brands of routers to turn them off and on again and download updates from the manufacturer to protect themselves.
The warning followed a court order last Wednesday that allowed the FBI to seize a website that the hackers planned to use to give instructions to the routers.
Though that cut off malicious communications, it still left the routers infected, and last Friday's warning was aimed at cleaning up those machines.
Infections were detected in more than 50 countries, though the primary target for further actions was probably Ukraine, the site of many recent infections and a long-time cyber-warfare battleground.
In obtaining the court order, the Justice Department said the hackers involved were in a group called Sofacy that answered to the Russian government.
Sofacy, also known as APT28 and Fancy Bear, has been blamed for many of the most dramatic Russian hacks, including that of the Democratic National Committee during the 2016 US presidential campaign.
Earlier, Cisco Systems said the hacking campaign targeted devices from Belkin International's Linksys, MikroTik, Netgear Inc, TP-Link and QNAP.