UK ministers have blamed the Russian military for a “malicious” cyber-attack on Ukraine last summer that spread across Europe.
The unusual step by the UK government publicly accuses Russia of June’s NotPetya ransomware attack.
Among the UK firms affected are Reckitt Benckiser, maker of Dettol, Durex and Strepsils.
Defence secretary Gavin Williamson said Russia was “ripping up the rule book” and the UK was duty-bound to respond.
Denying responsibility for the NotPetya attack, estimated to have cost companies over $1.2 billion, Russia pointed out Russian firms were among those whose systems were affected.
Meanwhile, US intelligence agencies expect Russia to continue cyber operations against Ukraine in 2018 with possible use of new capabilities, according to the Worldwide Threat Assessment report by US director of National Intelligence Daniel Coats published on 13 February.
”Russia is likely to build on the wide range of operations it is already conducting, including disruption of Ukrainian energy distribution networks, hack-and-leak influence operations, distributed denial-of-service attacks, and false flag operations,” the report reads.
The US intelligence also does not expect Ukraine to regain control of the occupied areas of Donbas this year. Russia will continue to try to use the discontent in the nation with the slow pace of reforms to undermine Ukraine’s government.
At the global level, US expects continuation of Russian propaganda campaign, in a bid to weaken western sanctions. It will also encourage anti-US political views, and try to block efforts to bring Ukraine and other former Soviet states into European institutions.
”Russia will continue its military, political, and economic destabilization campaign against Ukraine to stymie and, where possible, reverse Kyiv’s efforts to integrate with the EU and strengthen ties to NATO, ” the report says.
The report further states the war in eastern Ukraine will only see sporadic sparks of violence, but the current stalemate will likely continue.
”A major offensive by either side is unlikely in 2018, although each side’s calculus could change if it sees the other as seriously challenging the status quo,” the report says.