Just a day after the UK’s Foreign Office Minister Lord Ahmad publicly denounced Russia for launching the NotPetya cyber attack last year, the White House issued a statement today alleging Kremlin’s involvement in the ransomware attacks.
The White House said today that the ‘reckless and indiscriminate’ NotPetya cyber attack which was part of ‘Kremlin’s ongoing effort to destabilise Ukraine’, ‘will be met with international consequences’.
The public denouncement of Russia by the United States and the UK for its role in last year’s NotPetya cyber attack signifies how increasing cyber threats, principally from Russian actors, are bringing the two allies closer in terms of developing an international strategy to combat cyber crimes.
White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said on Thursday that last year’s cyber attack was ‘part of the Kremlin’s ongoing effort to destabilise Ukraine and demonstrates ever more clearly Russia’s involvement in the ongoing conflict’. She added that the NotPetya was ‘a reckless and indiscriminate cyber-attack that will be met with international consequences’.
Even though both the United States and the UK have spoken about consequences for Russia, it remains to be seen if such consequences will arrive in the form of economic sanctions or cyber-attacks by official agencies on servers owned by prominent hacker groups based in Russia.
Yesterday, Foreign Office Minister Lord Ahmad said that ‘the United Kingdom is identifying, pursuing and responding to malicious cyber activity regardless of where it originates, imposing costs on those who would seek to do us harm. We are committed to strengthening coordinated international efforts to uphold a free, open, peaceful and secure cyberspace.’
Recently, defence secretary Gavin Williamson also issued a statement to publicly accuse Russia of ‘undermining democracy’ and waging an undeclared cyber war on the UK.
‘We have entered a new era of warfare, witnessing a destructive and deadly mix of conventional military might and malicious cyber-attacks. Russia is ripping up the rulebook by undermining democracy, wrecking livelihoods by targeting critical infrastructure and weaponising information. We must be primed and ready to tackle these stark and intensifying threats,’ he said.
The NotPetya ransomware attack, which took place between June and July last year, was conducted by suspected Russian hackers who hacked into a software that was used by over 80 percent of businesses in Ukraine for tax filing purposes. The software was also used by the country’s banks, media organisations, transport, telecommunications, and energy departments.
The cyber attack also affected operations at global firms like Danish shipping company Maersk, Russian oil giant Rosneft, aircraft manufacturer Antonov, US pharmaceutical giant Merck as well as its subsidiary Merck Sharp & Dohme (MSD) in the UK. According to the Foreign Office, the Russian military was squarely responsible for planning and launching the NotPetya cyber attack last year.
However, it remains to be seen if Britain and the United States will be able to do more to stop cyber attacks launched by Russia aside from issuing public statements denouncing Putin’s administration.