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Britain blames Russia for 'NotPetya' ransomware cyberattack

By Sara Shayanian
The British Foreign Minister's Office said Thursday the Russian military was responsible for the 'NotPetya' ransomware attack last summer. File Photo by Ritchie B. Tongo/EPA
The British Foreign Minister's Office said Thursday the Russian military was responsible for the 'NotPetya' ransomware attack last summer. File Photo by Ritchie B. Tongo/EPA

Feb. 15 (UPI) -- British Foreign Office Minister Lord Ahmad said Thursday the Russian military was behind a global cyberattack last year that sought to hold computers hostage for ransom.

The 'NotPeyta' ransomware attack last June targeted government and private corporate servers worldwide -- and demanded a $300 ransom paid in Bitcoin to release the encryption that prevents users from accessing their devices.

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In a statement Thursday, the foreign minister's office said it decided to publicly blame Russia to show they won't tolerate malicious cyberattacks.

"The attack masqueraded as a criminal enterprise but its purpose was principally to disrupt," the foreign minister's office said. "Primary targets were Ukrainian financial, energy and government sectors."

Ahmad said the 'NotPetya' attack showed a "disregard" for Ukrainian sovereignty and asked for Russia to stop attempting to undermine the international community.

"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," Ahmad said. "We are committed to strengthening coordinated international efforts to uphold a free, open, peaceful and secure cyberspace."

Ransomware attacks involve malicious software that targets and blocks a user's computer data and effectively holds it hostage until money is paid for its release.

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The Russian military did not immediately respond to the accusation.

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