U.S. officials said the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) had seized control of thousands of routers and firewall appliances from Russian hackers by appropriating the infrastructure used to communicate with the devices.
An unsealed redacted affidavit said the operation attempted to prevent the hackers from networking the devices into a botnet with which they could assail other servers with rogue traffic.
Said U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland, "Fortunately, we were able to disrupt this botnet before it could be used.”
The botnet was governed by Cyclops Blink malware, which U.S. and U.K. cyberdefense agencies had publicly attributed to Sandworm, a group associated with Russian military intelligence.
FBI Director Chris Wray said, "We removed malware from devices used by thousands of mostly small businesses for network security all over the world. We shut the door the Russians had used to get into them."
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