Ukraine Alleges Moscow Behind Massive Cyberattack
June 29, 2017
A Ukraine official claimed Wednesday that Russia was behind the
previous day’s cyberattack that crippled computers in government
ministries and power grid facilities, banks, even at Kyiv’s
Oleksandr Turchinov, secretary of Ukraine’s National Security
and Defense Council, made the allegation after Tuesday’s
cyberattack that ultimately hit companies around the world in an
incident that was similar to a ransomware attack last month that
targeted hospitals in Britain.
The cyberattack, which Prime Minister Volodymyr Groysman called
“unprecedented,” was caused by a variant of a computer virus
known as Petya, which threatens to wipe the infected computer
clean of data unless the user pays a ransom in untraceable
bitcoins. But the ransomware was just a ruse, according to some
experts; the real goal of the hackers was to destroy data, they
No proof or claim of responsibility
While there is no proof or claim of responsibility behind
Tuesday’s attack, Ukraine officials cited strong circumstantial
evidence linking the widespread assault to Russia.
Russia was blamed for a massive cyberattack on neighboring
Estonia in 2007, and U.S. authorities, as well as private firms,
have blamed Russia for carrying out a number of cyberattacks in
connection with United States’ 2016 presidential election. Kyiv
has blamed previous cyberattacks on its infrastructure and power
grid on Russia, which annexed Ukraine’s Crimea peninsula in
The attacks also followed the assassination Tuesday of a
Ukrainian military intelligence officer in a car bomb in Kyiv.
Authorities have called the bombing an act of terrorism. That
Wednesday was Constitution Day, a public holiday in Ukraine, led
some to speculate that the Petya cyberattacks were a “present”
Other experts have noted, however, that the attacks hit targets
in other European countries. Russian state oil giant Rosneft
reported it had fallen victim to the same ransomware virus.
Burden of proof
Anton Nossik, often called “the father of the Russian internet”
and the founder of Lenta.ru and many other known Russian news
sites, has doubts about links to Moscow.
“The burden of proof lies with the Ukrainian authorities, who
never bothered to provide any evidence before voicing
accusations,” Nossik said.
He said Ukrainian authorities should have listened to
information technology experts’ warnings about ransomware
threats, such as the so-called WannaCry cryptoworm that attacked
computer systems worldwide in May.
“Exploit tools are out there in the open, any school kid can use
them against whoever forgot to patch his OS. If some government
offices happen to neglect the very basic safety measures, they
are vulnerable, and Kremlin is not to blame,” Nossik said.
Alexander Litreev, a Russian internet security expert, also
expressed doubts that the attack was state-sponsored.
do not know why the Ukrainian authorities have drawn conclusions
about Russia’s involvement in this cyberattack, at the moment,
there is no information to confirm or deny these statements.
There are no signs of Russian involvement yet,” Litreev said.
While Litreev said he did not yet see signs of state
involvement, he did say “the code was written by professionals.”
“The primary purpose, in my opinion, was to hit the largest
number of devices possible,” he said.
According to Litreev, fraud was the primary goal for the
WannaCry ransomware, but not for Petya.
As for the origin of the attacks, Litreev said it is too early
to determine what person or group might have been involved.
“We can’t tell for sure if this is the work of a state, a small
group of people, or even a single person. We are looking into
it,” he said.