US slams Russia for ‘most destructive, costly cyber-attack’

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Washington, Feb 16 (IANS) The US has slammed Russia for “the most destructive and costly cyber attack in history” that crippled computers worldwide and said it “will be met with international consequences”, media reports said.

The attack, titled NotPetya, initially targeted computers in Ukraine last year but affected companies around the globe, like British advertising group WPP, Oreo maker Mondelez, drugmaker Merck and global shipping company FedEx, reports CNN.

“It was part of the Kremlin’s ongoing effort to destabilise Ukraine and demonstrates ever more clearly Russia’s involvement in the ongoing conflict,” a statement from White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said on Thursday.

The attack, according to the White House’s statement, caused “billions of dollars in damage across Europe, Asia, and the Americas”.

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Earlier on Thursday, the British government had also released a statement on the attack, calling out Russia for its actions.

“The destructive attack masqueraded as ransomware, but its purpose was principally to disrupt,” the statement said.

It also said the actions “will not be tolerated”.

Meanwhile, Russia responded by “categorically” rejecting Britain’s accusations, reports Xinhua news agency.

“We consider them to be unsubstantiated and groundless,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said.

“This is nothing more than a continuation of the Russophobic campaign, based on no evidence,” Peskov said.

In January, American intelligence officials referenced a classified report from the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), alleging Russia’s military spy agency GRU created NotPetya, according to a Washington Post article.

The CIA had declined to comment.

–IANS

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