Russia faces brunt of WannaCry ransomeware attacks, terms it cyber-terrorism

Russia has expressed outrage against a potent ransomware which has affected the country more than any other.

Often accused of perpetrating cross-border cyber-warfare, Russia is now the biggest victim of a ransomware attack which has affected 74 countries.

According to Russia-based cyber security firm Kaspersky Labs, Russia has faced the largest number of WannaCry ransomware attacks, ahead of Ukraine, India, and Taiwan. Industries most affected by the malware in Russia were the public sector, banks, railroad and mobile telephony, a fact now accepted by the Russian establishment.

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“Humanity is dealing here with cyberterrorism. It’s an alarming signal, and not just a signal but a direct threat to the normal functioning of society, and important life-support systems,” said Frants Klintsevich, the deputy chairman of the Russian Senate’s defence committee. His comments came not long after French President Emmanuel Macron's campaign team accused Russia of being involved in a slew of cyber-attacks on campaign websites.

Even the chief executive of the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) in the UK has warned that Russian cyber-attacks could threaten the United Kingdom’s democratic processes in the coming days.

"You will be aware of the coverage of events in the United States, Germany and elsewhere reminding us of the potential for hostile action against the UK political system," said Ciaran Martin in a letter to British MPs.

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“This is not just about the network security of political parties’ own systems. Attacks against our democratic processes go beyond this and can include attacks on parliament, constituency offices, think tanks and pressure groups and individuals’ email accounts,” he added.

Russia has constantly denied accusations of conducting cyber-attacks, notably on political campaigns run by liberal candidates like Hillary Clinton and Emmanuel Macron. As for the WannaCry ransomware, the Russians are now openly pointing their fingers at the United States. “I respect the honesty of the United States. They threaten us with a cyberattack, and a cyberattack follows. It’s logical,” says Mikhail Delyagin, the director of the Institute of Problems of Globalization. A member of the Council for Digital Economy has termed the ransomware attack as an act of war.

The reason why the Russians are accusing the United States is that the malware is said to being stolen from servers maintained by the United States' National Security Agency (NSA). The malware is most effective against computers running older or unsecured Windows operating systems like Windows XP. However, many Government servers in Russia have survived the ransomware because they run domestic operating systems instead of Windows.

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While Russians are terming the WannaCry ransomware as a scourge of humanity, they are yet to act on many domestic hacker groups who routinely conduct cyber-attacks on foreign nations and political parties. For example, a hacker group named Pawn Storm received special mention from Japanese cyber-security firm Trend Micro recently.

Trend Micro released a report named 'From Espionage to Cyber Propaganda: Pawn Storm's Activities over the Past Two Years', in which it alleged that Pawn Storm's principle focus is on geopolitics and to achieve that aim, the group attacks armed forces, the defence industry, news media, and politicians. At the same time, “the group attempted to influence public opinion, to influence elections, and sought contact with mainstream media with some success,” the report added.