The Wall Street Journal: U.K. blames Russia for crippling cyberattack in June

LONDON — British officials blamed Russia for last June’s massive “Petya” cyberattack, which crippled computer networks at multinational firms including FedEx Corp. FDX, +0.21%  , container-ship giant A.P. Moeller-Maersk A/S MAERSKB, +0.43%   and pharmaceutical firm Merck & Co. MRK, +0.00%  

Ukraine, which bore the brunt of the attack, accused Russia at the time of orchestrating the attack. Wednesday’s allegations by London represented the first time a major Western government has pinned blame on Moscow for the incident.

The findings add to a litany of complaints by the West accusing Russia of cyber meddling, including U.S. allegations that Moscow influenced the 2016 U.S. presidential election. U.K. lawmakers also have raised questions about whether Russia tried to influence a 2016 referendum in which Britain voted to exit from the European Union.  Russia has denied meddling in the U.S. and U.K. elections.

U.K. intelligence officials said late Wednesday that they concluded that Russia’s military was “almost certainly responsible” for the attack, according to a statement by Britain’s foreign office. It said it decided to publicly point the finger to show that the U.K. and its allies “will not tolerate malicious cyber activity.”

The Petya computer “worm,” or malicious software, also known as NotPeyta, spread among corporate computer networks running Microsoft Corp.’s MSFT, +1.57%   Windows systems. Similar to last May’s “WannaCry” worm, it locked computer files and demanded about $300 in digital currency from the unidentified attackers to unlock them.

An expanded version of this report appears on WSJ.com.

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