London and Washington have blamed Russia for a "destructive" 2017 cyberattack that cost organizations hundreds of millions of dollars. The Kremlin has "categorically" denied the allegations, calling them "Russophobic."
The United Kingdom and United States on Thursday blamed Russia for the "NotPetya" cyberattack that caused havoc for businesses across Europe in 2017, accusing Moscow of "weaponizing information."
The Kremlin denied responsibility for the attack which started in Ukraine, where it wiped out government and business computers before spreading around the world.
Aim was 'to cause harm'
The White House said in a statement that the attack was "the most destructive and costly cyberattack in history," resulting a billions of dollars in losses.
"It was part of the Kremlin's ongoing effort to destabilize Ukraine," the US statement said.
Foreign Office Minister for Cyber Security Tariq Ahmad said: "The UK government judges that the Russian government, specifically the Russian military, was responsible for the destructive NotPetya cyberattack of June 2017."
British Defense Secretary Gavin Williamson accused Russia of "undermining democracy, wrecking livelihoods by targeting critical infrastructure, and weaponizing information" with malicious cyberattacks. "We must be primed and ready to tackle these stark and intensifying threats."
Russian President Vladimir Putin's spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, denied Russia's involvement, saying: "We categorically deny the accusations. We consider them unfounded and baseless and see them as continuation of groundless Russophobic campaign."
Who was affected: The data-scrambling software centered on Ukraine but quickly spread to companies that do business with Ukraine, including pharmaceutical giant Merck, Danish shipping firm Maersk and FedEx subsidiary TNT.
Why was Russia accused: In July last year, Ukraine's state security service the SBU also attributed the attack to Russia, saying it was undertaken by the same hackers who attacked the Ukrainian power grid in December 2016. "The main purpose of the virus was the destruction of important data, disrupting the work of public and private institutions in Ukraine and spreading panic among the people."
How much damage did "NotPetya" cause: The attack put computers out of operation across about 60 countries. The British Foreign Ministry said the "primary targets were Ukrainian financial, energy and government sectors. Its indiscriminate design caused it to spread further, affecting other European and Russian business." The "reckless" attack cost organizations hundreds of millions of dollars, Ahmad said.
cw/law/rt (AFP, AP, Reuters)