RUSSIA has been accused of “ripping up the rule book” and “undermining democracy” by Gavin Williamson as Britain directly blames Putin for a cyber attack which spread across Europe last year.
In more strong language from the Defence Secretary he says the Kremlin is “wrecking livelihoods by targeting critical infrastructure, and weaponising information”.
It comes after the damaging NotPetya attack was traced back to Moscow, which targeted the Ukrainian financial, energy, and government sectors.
But the sophisticated hack was designed to spread further, and affected other European firms in June 2017, at an estimate cost of $1.2billion
Russia has denied being behind it, but today the British Government named and shamed them, deepening a row which started when Mr Williamson said Moscow could cause “thousands and thousands and thousands” of deaths with cyber attacks on UK infrastructure.
And Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon saying the decision to identify them as responsible to the attack underlines the fact they will not tolerate “malicious cyber activity”.
The cyber security minister said: “The attack showed a continued disregard for Ukrainian sovereignty.
“Its reckless release disrupted organisations across Europe costing hundreds of millions of pounds.”
And the Defence Secretary Mr Williamson blasted President Putin’s regime, saying: “We have entered a new era of warfare, witnessing a destructive and deadly mix of conventional military might and malicious cyber attacks.
“Russia is ripping up the rule book by undermining democracy, wrecking livelihoods by targeting critical infrastructure, and weaponising information.
“We must be primed and ready to tackle these stark and intensifying threats.”
Lord Ahmad added: “The Kremlin has positioned Russia in direct opposition to the West yet it doesn’t have to be that way.
“We call upon Russia to be the responsible member of the international community it claims to be rather then secretly trying to undermine it.
“The United Kingdom is identifying, pursuing and responding to malicious cyber activity regardless of where it originates, imposing costs on those who would seek to do us harm.
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“We are committed to strengthening co-ordinated international efforts to uphold a free, open, peaceful and secure cyberspace.”
But the Kremlin has denied being behind the attack, saying: “We categorically reject such accusations. We consider them unsubstantiated and groundless.”
Spokesman Dmitry Peskov told journalists: “This is nothing but a continuation of a Russophobic campaign that is not based on any evidence.”