UK blames Russia for Ransomware attack

15 February 2018

Government claims it was behind the NotPetya cyber-attack last June


The UK Government has publicly accused the Russian military of a “malicious” cyber-attack on the Ukraine, which spread across Europe.

British ministers have accused Russia of last summer’s NotPetya ransomware attack, which is estimated to have cost companies more than $1.2bn. Reckitt Benckiser - maker of Dettol, Durex and Strepsils - was among the UK firms whose sales were affected.

Russia has denied responsibility and says Russian firms were also among those whose systems were affected by the cyber-attack.

Ransomware works by blocking access to the target’s files by encrypting them. The hackers then threaten to delete these files unless a ransom is paid to ‘unlock’ them.

Ukraine has been in conflict with Russian-backed separatists since Moscow annexed Crimea in 2014. The NotPetya attack affected businesses with strong trade links with Ukraine, such as Reckitt Benckister, Dutch delivery firm TNT and Danish shipping giant Maersk.

Reckitt Benckiser, whose other brands include Nurofen, Veet and Clearasil, said the attack disrupted its manufacturing output and shipping capacity for up to two months and contributed to a fall in revenues.

Speaking to the BBC, Foreign Office minister Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon said the UK's decision to identify the Kremlin as responsible for the attack underlined the fact that the government will not tolerate "malicious cyber activity".

He said: "The UK government judges that the Russian government, specifically the Russian military, was responsible for the destructive NotPetya cyber attack.

"Its reckless release disrupted organisations across Europe costing hundreds of millions of pounds. 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."

Mr Williamson warned that the West had "entered a new era of warfare, witnessing a destructive and deadly mix of conventional military might and malicious cyber attacks".

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