UK Officially Blames Russia Military For NotPetya Ransomware

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelance and long standing contributor to TechWeek Europe

Defence Secretary says Russia is “ripping up the rule book” as he places blame for recent ransomware attack on Putin’s country

Tensions over Russia’s cyber warfare activities have ratcheted up after the British government officially accused Russia of being behind last year’s NotPetya ransomware outbreak.

Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson said Russia was essentially “ripping up the rule book” and the UK was duty-bound to respond.

That ransomware attack originated in the Ukraine in June last year, and it targetted mostly Ukrainian government networks and financial and energy assets in that country.

NotPetya

Oh Those Russians

The cyber-attack was called ‘NotPetya by security experts due to its similarities to the previously-detected Petya ransomware.

This strain of ransomware then spread and impacted the computer systems of high-profile companies across the world, causing damages of more than $1.2bn (£850m).

In July 2017, a family-run Ukrainian accountancy firm called Intellect Service denied it was behind the attack. Since that time, investigators have been working to determine the exact origin and perpetrators of the attack.

Ukraine has been in conflict with Russian-backed separatists since Russia illegally annexed Crimea in 2014.

And now it seems that the British know who carried out the attack, after the government officially blamed the Russian military for carrying out the attack.

We Know You Did It

“We have entered a new era of warfare, witnessing a destructive and deadly mix of conventional military might and malicious cyber-attacks,” the defence secretary, Gavin Williamson, was quoted as saying by the Guardian newspaper.

“Russia is ripping up the rulebook by undermining democracy, wrecking livelihoods by targeting critical infrastructure and weaponising information,” he added. “We must be primed and ready to tackle these stark and intensifying threats.”

Russia for its part has denied responsibility for the NotPetya attack and pointed out that Russian firms were among those whose systems were affected.

But the the foreign minister, Lord Ahmad, said the UK’s decision to identify Russia as responsible showed that the government would not tolerate malicious cyber activity.

“The UK government judges that the Russian government, specifically the Russian military, was responsible for the destructive NotPetya cyber-attack of June 2017,” he is reported to have said. “The Kremlin has positioned Russia in direct opposition to the west, yet it doesn’t have to be that way.”

“We call upon Russia to be the responsible member of the international community it claims to be, rather then secretly trying to undermine it,” he added. “We are committed to strengthening coordinated international efforts to uphold a free, open, peaceful and secure cyberspace.”

This time last year then Defence Secretary Sir Michael Fallon issued a stark warning about the scale of Russian cyber attacks.

He said at the time that Russia is carrying out a sustained campaign of cyber attacks targeting democracy and critical infrastructure in the West.

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