Russia hit hardest by worldwide cyberattack

Russia hit hardest by worldwide cyberattack Photo: Christiaan Colen

On Friday and later during the weekend, computers all over the world suffered a massive cyberattack caused by a malicious software. According to Kaspersky Lab, in Russia WannaCry cyberattack tried to infect more computers than elsewhere. The virus used vulnerabilities in outdated and unlicenсed Microsoft Windows versions, which are widespread across the country.

The Russian Federation has been hit the hardest of all the countries affected by the first wave of the spread of WannaCry malicious software, states The New York Times. The attack started on Friday 12 May, and by Sunday over 200,000 computers in more than 150 countries had been attacked, estimates the European Union's police agency. In Russia, the malware hit banks, cellphone operators, railroads and even the Ministry of Internal Affairs. However, the ministry's spokesperson Irina Volk stated that key servers had avoided the attack because they were running domestic software.

Nonetheless, Russian officials are concerned about the incident. ''Humanity is dealing here with cyberterrorism,'' said Deputy Chairman of the Federation Council Committee on Defence and Security Frants Klintsevich. ''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.'' The politician assumed that the attack was aimed at frightening the whole world: ''The attacks hit hospitals, railroad transport and police. Over these days, the world got a serious warning.''

The virus was based on a software apparently stolen from the U.S. National Security Agency's arsenal of cyberweapons and distributed by unknown hackers, states the media. The malware was modified to demand ransoms from the users of blocked computers. It exploits vulnerabilities in the versions of Microsoft Windows that have not been updated in time and unlicenсed ones. Such systems are widely used in Russia, and this could be a reason why Russian Kaspersky Lab has registered more hacking attempts in Russia than elsewhere.

According to Kaspersky Lab, in Russia WannaCry cyberattack tried to infect more computers than elsewhere. Photo: Alexxsun

The attack has been probably the most serious computer intrusion since the attempts to influence the outcome of the 2016 American presidential election. The U.S. officials have repeatedly accused Russia of these attempts, but Moscow firmly denies any involvement in the American election process as well as in the recent presidential election in France. Now some Russian experts believe that the U.S. government backs the WannaCry attack acting in retaliation. ''I respect the honesty of the United States,'' says Mikhail Delyagin, Russian politician and economist. ''They threaten us with a cyberattack, and a cyberattack follows. It's logical.''

Igor Ashmanov, a famous Russian IT entrepreneur and manager, expressed an opposite point of view. ''Special state cyber forces evidently would not exercise such a stupid attack,'' he said in an interview. Any government-backed attack on Russian institutions would be considered an act of war, he added.

By Anna Litvina