Trump administration threatens ‘consequences’ following Russian cyberattack against Ukraine in 2017

The White House has said there will be “international consequences” in response to a June 2017 cyberattack against Ukraine by the Russian military — an attack that spread to computers and networks around the world.

One White House official, when pressed by U.S. media, would not specify what actions would be taken, replying, “We are not going to forecast our moves.”

A White House statement announcing the actions stated:

“In June 2017, the Russian military launched the most destructive and costly cyber-attack in history. The attack, dubbed ‘NotPetya,’ 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 destabilize 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.”

The U.S. statement came within hours after a similar statement made by the UK government.

Consequences could include a retaliatory cyberattack or sanctions, the latter of which would eventually be announced publicly.

On June 27, a new piece of malware hit Ukrainian companies that since has been dubbed NotPetya, in part because it originally bore an intentional resemblance to encrypting ransomware called Petya.

“The software, virus, malware, was planted on the computers of [chief financial officers] and chief accountants who have on their computers all the financial contracts, digital signatures for the banks, everything you have for business institutions,” Dmytro Shymkiv, the deputy head of the Presidential Administration of Ukraine, said at a recent George Washington University event.

“To cover the trace [sic], the NotPetya virus was spread to wipe out any trace of intelligence gathering. But it created enormous sabotage in the country. We have supermarkets not working. People could not get groceries. ATMs were not working. People could not withdraw their money,” he said. [source]

Analysis: Cyber security experts agree that this attack by Russia should have very big consequences, lest Moscow continue to use cyber weapons in such a reckless manner. But of course, a counter-cyber attack always carries a risk; if that is the route the Trump administration chooses, then the president obviously believes it is worth taking. We’ll see in the not-too-distant future if Moscow went a bridge too far this time.

Jon E. Dougherty is a political, foreign policy and national security analyst and reporter with nearly 30 years of experience in both fields. A U.S. Army veteran of Operation Enduring Freedom, he holds BA in Political Science from Ashford University and an MA in National Security Studies/Intelligence Analysis from American Military University.

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