Gavin Williamson: Putin to blame for Europe-wide cyber attack
Gavin Williamson has accused Russia of 'ripping up the rule book' and 'undermining democracy' over a cyber attack which spread across Europe last year.
In a stinging attack, the Defence Secretary said the Kremlin was 'wrecking livelihoods by targeting critical infrastructure, and weaponising information'.
It came as Britain directly blamed Putin for the damaging NotPetya cyber attack which targeted the Ukrainian financial, energy, and government sectors.
The sophisticated attack in June last year – which UK officials say has been traced back to Moscow – was designed to spread further, and affected numerous other European firms.
The overall estimated cost was $1.2billion (£850million).
Russia has denied being behind it, but the British Government took the unusual step of naming and shaming them, deepening a row which started when Mr Williamson said Moscow could cause 'thousands' of deaths with cyber attacks on UK infrastructure.
Mr Williamson said: "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."
Foreign minister for cyber security Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon said the UK's decision to identify the Kremlin as responsible to the attack underlines the fact the Government will not tolerate 'malicious cyber activity'.
He said: "The UK Government judges that the Russian government, specifically the Russian military, was responsible for the destructive NotPetya cyber attack of June 2017.
"The attack showed a continued disregard for Ukrainian sovereignty. Its reckless release disrupted organisations across Europe costing hundreds of millions of pounds.
"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.
"We are committed to strengthening co-ordinated international efforts to uphold a free, open, peaceful and secure cyberspace."
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