The UK has held the Russian military responsible for the NotPetya ransomware attack that affected thousands of computers worldwide last year.
The UK government has openly accused Russian military for launching the attack adding that this is a “new era of warfare” started by Russia and it is representative of the “a destructive and deadly mix of conventional military might and malicious cyber attacks”.
Russia on the other hand was quick to deny any involvement and said that the accusations are baseless and unsubstantiated. Russia says that UK’s accusation is an example of ‘Russophobic campaign’ that is not based on any evidence.
The attack contaminated thousands of computers worldwide, particularly affecting multinational companies and critical infrastructure, such as radiation monitors at the old Chernobyl nuclear power plant and the ports of Mumbai and Amsterdam.
Companies hit included the Russian oil group Rosneft, Danish shipping company Maersk, US pharmaceutical giant Merck, French construction specialist Saint-Gobain and the British advertising firm WPP.
Ukraine, which is battling Russia-backed rebels in the east in a conflict that has killed more than 10,000 people, was the worst affected country. Banking operations were compromised in what authorities said was an unprecedented attack, which even disrupted arrivals and departures informations at the capital’s main Boryspil airport.
The virus, which demanded a payment worth $300 as it locked up files at companies and government agencies, was reminiscent of the WannaCry ransomware attack that swept the world a month earlier in May 2017, hitting more than 200,000 users in more than 150 countries.
Britain and the US have blamed North Korea for the WannaCry attack, saying it may have been an attempt by the isolated communist regime to access foreign currency.
The NotPetya attack appeared much smaller in scale, with global cybersecurity firm Kaspersky Lab estimating there were thousands of victims.
London has taken an aggressive stance against Moscow, with Prime Minister Theresa May last year accusing it of “seeking to weaponise information”. British army chief Nick Carter later said that Russian cyber-warfare presented a direct threat to Britain. He called for more investment in the armed forces to be able to deal with it.Carter said Russia was engaging in “information warfare at its best”.
Some British politicians have accused Russia of attempts to disrupt the democratic process in Britain by online interference in political campaigns such as the 2016 Brexit referendum and a 2017 general election.