The Trump administration on Thursday publicly blamed Russia for the massive notPetya cyberattack that ravaged computer systems worldwide last June, and warned that there would be "international consequences."
“In June 2017, the Russian military launched the most destructive and costly cyber-attack in history,” the White House said in a written statement Thursday afternoon.
The adminsitration issued the statement hours after the British government similarly blamed Russia for the destructive malware attack.
The Trump administration warned the “reckless and indiscriminate” attack “will be met with international consequences.”
“The attack, dubbed ‘NotPetya,’ quickly spread worldwide, causing billions of dollars in damage across Europe, Asia, and the Americas,” the White House said. “It was part of the Kremlin’s ongoing effort to destabilize Ukraine and demonstrates ever more clearly Russia’s involvement in the ongoing conflict.”
Reuters reported earlier Thursday that the British announcement was coordinated with other countries, including the U.S., and that some other nations were expected to make their own statements attributing the attack in the coming days.
The Russian government denies responsibility for the cyberattack.
The public attribution of notPetya comes roughly two months after the U.S. publicly denounced North Korea for the WannaCry cyberattack that occurred last May. White House homeland security adviser Tom Bossert, who made the announcement, emphasized the need to hold malicious cyber actors accountable. Britain also blamed Pyongyang for WannaCry.
The notPetya computer virus broke out last June, first spreading to organizations in Ukraine and later to others in Europe and the United States. Ukraine appeared to be the initial target of the attack, generating suspicions that Russia was to blame.
While the virus initially appeared to be ransomware, experts quickly concluded that it was designed to destroy data. Victims were locked out of their machines and asked to pay a $300 ransom in bitcoin; however, those who paid the ransom did not ultimately recover their stolen files.
It had a particularly severe impact on global shipping giant A.P. Moller-Maersk, forcing the shutdown of the largest terminal at the Port of Los Angeles for several days. Maersk has estimated the attack cost the company between $200 million and $300 million.
FedEx was also hit by the attack and reported losses of $300 million as a result last year.
The malware is based on a hacking tool widely believed to have been stolen from the National Security Agency and leaked by the Shadow Brokers group last year. The virus leverages a vulnerability in Microsoft Windows for which a patch had been issued before the attack broke out; still, many systems remained unpatched around the world, leaving them vulnerable to the cyberattack.
The Trump administration’s move is likely to ratchet up tensions with Moscow, despite President TrumpDonald TrumpOvernight Defense & National Security — The Pentagon's deadly mistake Overnight Energy & Environment — Presented by Climate Power — Interior returns BLM HQ to Washington France pulls ambassadors to US, Australia in protest of submarine deal MORE’s desire to achieve better relations with Russia to cooperate on issues such as North Korea.
Updated: 4:41 p.m.