Russia had nothing to do with a massive global cyberattack, President Vladimir Putin said today, calling for urgent consultations on countering the hackers. Hundreds of thousands of computers in more than 150 countries have been hit by the ransomware attack, which has been described as the largest-ever of its kind. The attack began Friday and struck banks, hospitals and government agencies among a variety of other targets, exploiting known vulnerabilities in older Microsoft computer operating systems. “As for the source of these threats, Microsoft’s leadership stated this directly, they said the source of the virus was the special services of the United States,” Putin said. Putin was referring to a weekend blog post by Microsoft president Brad Smith stating that the US National Security Agency had developed the code being used in the attack.
“This completely doesn’t concern Russia,” Putin added on the sidelines of an international summit in Beijing. The US has accused Russia in the past of mounting several cyberattacks. In March the Justice Department indicted two officials of Russia’s Federal Security Service and two criminal hackers whom they allegedly hired to steal data from some 500 million Yahoo user accounts. The fast-spreading malware called “WannaCry,” is the first ever detected to combine both a worm — which enables it to burrow into an entire network from a single infected computer — and ransomware, demanding $300 (275 euros) in the virtual currency Bitcoin to unlock systems.
While there was “no significant damage” to Russian institutions such as banks and hospitals, Putin said the incident was “worrisome” and warranted immediate talks “on a serious political level”. “There is nothing good in this and calls for concern,” he said. “A protection system from these manifestations needs to be worked out.”