Graphic by Samantha Lee (Business Insider)
The waves caused by a global cyber attack have rippled across Russia as well.
On Tuesday, a ransomware attack first hit security systems of banks and major companies across Europe.
Although Ukraine was hit hardest by the attack, company and government servers in the UK, Israel, and the US were also afflicted with ransomware that encrypts and locks a system’s files and requests a hefty payment to decrypt them.
In Russia, papers reported attacks on the oil company Rosneft, the steel company Evraz, and the national transpiration ministry in St. Petersburg. While not hit, Russian police also temporarily disabled its servers to prevent another attack.
As Ukraine saw numerous government agencies and even supermarkets and airports hit by the attack, many people — including Ukrainian members of parliament — suggested that Russia could be behind them. In the West, many also suggested that Russia could have orchestrated the attacks based on current allegations that Russian hackers interfered in the 2016 US presidential election.
“The notorious Russian hackers have become almost as common when it comes to Russian stereotypes as bears, balalaikas (a Russian musical instrument) and vodka,” wrote Irina Alksnis for Vzgliad, a Moscow-based business paper.
Russian media uniformly rejected that possibility, saying that the attack was yet another instance of the West using Russia as a scapegoat for its problems. Both state-owned and private publications wrote that this round of speculation was particularly ill-founded given that Russian banks and companies were among ones hit by the ransomware attack.
“The fact that the attacks happened to us as well was evidently ignored,” state-owned Channel One Russia television channel published on its website.
Writing for state-owned Russia Times, Vladimir Smirnov insisted that the attack was more likely to have started in Ukraine, quoting German security company BSI’s analysis that Ukraine was affected the most out of all the countries. State-owned RIA Novosti also published an article about Russia’s need to reexamine its own security systems in order to prevent another cyber attack.
But as both Russian and global media speculated on who could have been behind the attacks, Alksnis wrote that the attack could have started anywhere — Ukraine, Russia or somewhere else entirely with the intent on throwing suspicion on one of the two countries. She went on to argue that day-to-day politics between individual countries are less important than the fact that hackers now have sophisticated tools allowing them to wreak havoc on any part of the world at any time.
“People now need to grapple with the fact that nowadays any problem or conflict, whether regional or local, could have a global outreach and affect every single person living on the planet,” wrote Alksnis.