Ukraine: Russian security services were behind cyberattack

Passengers use mobile phones in an underground in Kiev, Ukraine, Wednesday, June 28, 2017. The cyberattack ransomware that has paralysed computers across the world hit Ukraine hardest Tuesday, with victims including top-level government offices, energy companies, banks, cash machines, gas stations, and supermarkets. (AP Photo/Sergei Chuzavkov)

MOSCOW — Ukraine accused the Russian security services Saturday of planning and launching a cyberattack that locked up computers around the world earlier this week.

The Ukrainian security agency, known as the SBU, alleged in a statement that similarities between the malicious software and previous attacks on Ukrainian infrastructure revealed the work of Russian intelligence services.

The SBU added that the attackers appeared uninterested in making a profit from the ransomware program and were more focused on sowing chaos in Ukraine.

There was no immediate official response from Russia’s government, but Russian lawmaker Igor Morozov told the RIA Novosti news agency that the Ukrainian charges were “fiction” and that the attacks were likely the work of the United States.

Ukraine was the country most affected by the attack using a strain of malware known by names including NotPetya. Beginning Tuesday, computers across Ukraine at government agencies, energy companies and banks were disabled as their data was encrypted amid demands for ransom payments.

Two cybersecurity outfits have publicly tied the NotPetya malware to hacking groups that many other experts in turn believe are linked to Russian intelligence operations.

Russian anti-virus company Kaspersky Lab has identified similarities between NotPetya and BlackEnergy, a sophisticated malware assumed to have been used in a series of cyberattacks on Ukrainian infrastructure in recent years.

“There are several parts of the code and strings that are shared,” Vyacheslav Zakorzhevsky, the head of Kaspersky’s anti-virus research department, told The Associated Press on Saturday. “These families are connected.”

ESET, a Slovakian cybersecurity firm, said the cyberattacks did not come out of nowhere.

“This was not an isolated incident. This is the latest in a series of similar attacks in Ukraine,” ESET said in a Friday report , suggesting the reason other countries were hit was because the hackers had underestimated the power of their malware and it had spun out of control.