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Parmy Olson

Cyberattacks on Ukraine Could Spread Globally

Fake ransomware that hit dozens of government agencies resemble Russia’s 2017 computer worm attack around the world.

Whose digital fingerprints are on the Ukraine hacks?

Whose digital fingerprints are on the Ukraine hacks?

Photographer: Ian Waldie/Getty Images AsiaPac

In cyberwarfare, the toughest question to answer definitively is “Who did it?” It’s no surprise then that Microsoft Corp. avoided the attribution on everyone else’s lips in its analysis of last week’s cyberattacks on Ukraine. That would be Russia. But several clues suggest they not only came from the Kremlin but will follow a pattern of spilling into other countries in Europe and the U.S., too. That ratchets up geopolitical tension across the world: Ukraine is currently bracing for potential military action from Moscow; Russian President Vladimir Putin has 100,000 troops at the border; and Moscow’s security talks with the U.S. and NATO have broken down.

There’s a lot of circumstantial evidence for a Russian hand in the latest cyberattacks, which affected around 70 government agencies in Ukraine, the worst in the country in four years. They resemble a devastating series that was widely attributed to Moscow, which began in 2015, continued into 2017 and swamped Ukraine’s banks, media and electric utilities with malware targeting Windows-based systems. If so, the wider world outside of Ukraine had better start taking precautions.