Britain has blamed Russia for the NotPetya cyber-attack that crippled governments and businesses in Ukraine before spreading around the world in June last year.
Britain has publicly pointed the finger at Moscow for spreading the virus, which disrupted companies across Europe including UK-based Reckitt Benckiser.
Britain’s foreign ministry said the attack originated from the Russian military. In a statement, the ministry said, “The decision to publicly attribute this incident underlines the fact that the UK and its allies will not tolerate malicious cyber activity.”
“The attack masqueraded as a criminal enterprise but its purpose was principally to disrupt,” it added.
“Primary targets were Ukrainian financial, energy and government sectors. Its indiscriminate design caused it to spread further, affecting other European and Russian business.”
Moscow has previously denied being behind the NotPetya attack, and earlier today, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Russia “categorically denies the allegations”.
“We consider (them)… groundless. This is nothing more than a continuation of a Russophobic campaign that is without proof,” Peskov told a conference call with reporters, according to a Reuters report.
British defence minister Gavin Williamson said the attack was part of a new era of warfare and Britain had to be ready to respond. “We must be primed and ready to tackle these stark and intensifying threats,” he said in a statement.
Britain has recently become more vocal about the threat posed by Russia at a time when some members of the ruling Conservative Party have expressed concern about the impact of cuts to defence spending.