U.S., Canada, Australia Attribute NotPetya Attack to Russia

Haythem Elmir

The United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand have joined the United Kingdom in officially blaming Russia for the destructive NotPetya attack launched last summer. Moscow has denied the accusations.

In a statement released on Thursday, the White House attributed the June 2017 attack to the Russian military and described it as “the most destructive and costly cyber-attack in history.”

“The attack, dubbed ‘NotPetya,’ quickly spread worldwide, causing billions of dollars in damage across Europe, Asia, and the Americas,” the White House Press Secretary stated. “It was part of the Kremlin’s ongoing effort to destabilize Ukraine and demonstrates ever more clearly Russia’s involvement in the ongoing conflict. This was also a reckless and indiscriminate cyber-attack that will be met with international consequences.”

According to the Australian government, the conclusion that threat actors sponsored by Russia are responsible for the cyberattack was reached based on information from its domestic intelligence agencies and consultation with the U.S. and U.K.

“The Australian Government condemns Russia’s behaviour, which posed grave risks to the global economy, to government operations and services, to business activity and the safety and welfare of individuals,” stated Angus Taylor, Australia’s Minister for Law Enforcement and Cybersecurity. “The Australian Government is further strengthening its international partnerships through an International Cyber Engagement Strategy to deter and respond to the malevolent use of cyberspace.”

Canada’s Communications Security Establishment (CSE) also accused Russia of launching the NotPetya attack based on its own assessment.

“Canada condemns the use of the NotPetya malware to indiscriminately attack critical financial, energy, government, and infrastructure sectors around the world in June 2017,” said CSE Chief Greta Bossenmaier. “As previously stated, the Government of Canada continues to strongly oppose the use of cyberspace for reckless and destructive criminal activities. We remain committed to working with our allies and partners to maintain the open, reliable and secure use of cyber space.”

New Zealand’s Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB) said that while the country was not directly targeted by NotPetya, the incident did cause disruption to some organizations that had rushed to update their systems after news of the attack broke.

New Zealand has joined the other Five Eyes countries in condemning the attack, but its statement suggests that its attribution of the incident to Russia is based solely on information provided by GCSB’s international partners.

British Foreign Office Minister for Cyber Security Lord Tariq Ahmad said Russia “showed a continued disregard for Ukrainian sovereignty” by launching the NotPetya attack.

Moscow has denied the accusations, describing them as unsubstantiated and groundless. “This is nothing more than the continuation of the Russophobic campaign lacking any evidence,” said Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov.

The NotPetya malware (also known as PetrWrap, exPetr, GoldenEye and Diskcoder.C) affected tens of thousands of systems around the world. Researchers initially believed NotPetya was a piece of ransomware, but a closer analysis revealed that it was actually a destructive wiper.
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