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Man arrested over attack that disabled 1m routers

A British man accused of being the mastermind behind a cyber attack that disabled more than a million internet routers has been arrested at Luton Airport.

Users were unable to get online after the Deutsche Telekom routers were hijacked during the attack in November 2016.

The 29-year old man was arrested by the UK’s National Crime Agency under a European Arrest Warrant on behalf of Germany's federal criminal police force (BKA). He could now face extradition to Germany to face charges of computer sabotage.

In a statement, the BKA said that the attack is a ‘particularly serious case’, branding it ‘a threat to critical communication infrastructures’. It is assumed that the hijacked routers would have mounted a DDoS attack against websites.

Vulnerable routers fooled

The attack exploited a vulnerability in Zyxel and Speedport routers and the TR-069 and TR-064 protocols, which are used by ISPs to manage hundreds of thousands of internet devices remotely.

In the case of November’s hijackings, attackers were able to fool vulnerable routers into downloading and executing malicious code, with the intention of crashing or exploiting them.

Compromised routers could then bombard websites with unwanted traffic, have their Wi-Fi credentials stolen or see changes to their DNS settings.

The attack is believed to have been carried out using a variant of the Mirai malware, which caused a major headache for massive websites like Twitter, Amazon, Netflix and Spotify in late 2016 when it was used in the attacks on DNS provider Dyn, French web hosting company OVH and the website of security researcher Brian Krebs.

When the attack occurred in November, Deutsche Telekom denied an error pattern, insisting that some customers were simply experiencing temporary problems or very marked fluctuations in quality.

However, it added that it couldn’t “exclude the possibility that the routers have been targeted by external parties with the result that they can no longer register on the network”.

Written by for Comms ExpressADNFCR-1186-ID-801832908-ADNFCR

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