The Australian government has placed the blame on Russia for last year’s NotPetya cyber attack on critical infrastructure and businesses, which caused billions of dollars of damage.
The NotPetya ransomware was first seen in the Ukraine in June last year but quickly spread around the world, hitting state and private sector companies and destroying data.
Late last week, Australia followed in the footsteps of the UK and US in attributing the cyber attack to Russian state actors.
In a statement, Minister for Law Enforcement and Cyber Security Angus Taylor slammed Russia over the attack.
“Based on advice from Australian intelligence agencies, and through consultation with the United States and United Kingdom, the Australian government has judged that Russian state sponsored actors were responsible for the incident,” Taylor said in the statement.
“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.”
The statement came just hours after the UK government also placed the blame squarely on Moscow.
“The decision to publicly attribute this incident underlines the fact that the UK and its allies will not tolerate malicious cyber activity,” the British ministry said in a statement.
“The attack masqueraded as a criminal enterprise but its purpose was principally to disrupt. Primary targets were Ukrainian financial, energy and government sectors. Its indiscriminate design caused it to spread further, affecting other European and Russian business.”
On the same day, the US government also confirmed it believes the Kremlin was behind NotPetya.
“In June 2017, the Russian military launched the most destructive and costly cyber attack in history,” the White House said.
“The attacked quickly spread worldwide, causing billions of dollars in damage across Europe, Asia and the Americas.
“It was part of the Kremlin’s ongoing effort to destablise 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.”
UK defence secretary Gavin Williamson said the state-sponsored attack signalled that the West had “entered a new era of warfare”.
British foreign ministry junior minister Tariq Ahmad also slammed Russia over the incident.
“The Kremlin has positioned Russia in direct opposition to the West: it doesn’t have to be that way,” Ahmad said.
“We call upon Russia to be the responsible member of the international community it claims to be rather than secretly trying to undermine it.”
The Russian government has continually denied that it was behind the attack, and Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said it “categorically denies the allegations”.
“We consider [them] groundless,” Peskov said.
“This is nothing more than a continuation of a Russophobic campaign that is without proof.”
It was reported in January that the CIA had already attributed the NotPetya attack to Russian military hackers.
Taylor said the Australian government is working to protect itself and its allies from further cyber attacks.
“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.
“The government is committed to ensuring the Australian public sector, businesses and the community are prepared for evolving cyber threats.”