Information operations · Information Warfare · Ukraine

NATO assisting Ukrainian cyber defences after ransom ware attack cripples government and businesses

A message demanding money is seen on a monitor of a payment terminal at a branch of Ukraine’s state-owned bank Oschadbank CREDIT: VALENTYN OGIRENKO/REUTERS

Nato will help Ukraine improve its cyber defences after a massive attack paralysed government ministries and dozens of businesses across the country.

Jens Stoltenberg, the Nato secretary general, said a fund had been set up to assist Ukraine in improving its resistance to cyber attacks.

“The attack in May and this week just underlines the importance of strengthening our cyber defences and that is what we are doing,” Mr Stoltenburg said ahead of a meeting of Nato defence minister in Brussels on Wednesday.

“Nato helps Ukraine with cyber defence and has established a trust fund to finance programs to help Ukraine improve its cyber defences,” he said.

“The attacks we have seen this week highlight the importance of the support Nato provides to Ukraine. We will continue to do this and it is an important part of our cooperation,” he added.

A global cyber attack on Tuesday crippled government departments and businesses across Ukraine and hit dozens of targets in other countries including Britain, Brazil, Germany, Russia, and the United States.

The virus, a form of ransom ware dubbed “Petya,” stops computers from being able to launch and demands a $300 (£234) payment in exchange for decrypting frozen files.

In Ukraine, government departments, the central bank, a state-run aircraft manufacturer,  and Kiev’s main airport and metro network were all temporarily  paralysed by the hack.

Others affected including Rosneft, Russia’s state-owned oil firm, and the Maersk shipping company, which said officers around the world were hit.

The Ukrainian government said in a statement on Wednesday that the attacks have now halted, and that the affected organizations are back to work as normal.

The Russian government on Wednesday called for international action to tackle cyber crime.

Speaking to journalist on Wednesday, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the attack “again proves the Russian thesis that such a threat requires cooperation on the global level.”

Earlier on Wednesday a US security researcher released a “vaccination”designed to protect users from the virus.

The antidote, developed by a Boston-based security experts called Amit Serper, uses an empty folder to block the virus from working.