Jan 13, 2018

Russia behind NotPetya cyberattack in Ukraine, CIA concludes

Vladimir Putin. Photo: Mikhail Svetlov / Getty Images

The CIA concluded that Russian military hackers were responsible for a cyberattack that disabled computers in Ukraine last year, The Washington Post’s Ellen Nakashima reports, citing U.S. intelligence officials referencing a classified report.

Why it matters: Experts believe Russia is using Ukraine as a testing ground for future cyberattacks, so the way it behaves in Ukraine is worth watching. The tactic here is notable as well: the hackers launched the attack using what appeared to be ransomware, which would make it appear is if they were criminal hackers.

Takeaway: This suggests attribution of cyberattacks, already difficult to accomplish, may be becoming an even more counterintuitive process as hackers adopt more deceptive methods.


  • The CIA reportedly concluded in November with “high confidence” that the GRU military spy agency created NotPetya, per the WaPo.
  • This would not be the first time Russia is at least suspected of having gone after Ukraine. Recall the 2015 attack on Ukraine that shut off its power grid.

The CIA declined to comment to the WaPo.

Context: Russia has long viewed Ukraine as a part of Russia and sees it as an important geopolitical asset between NATO and Russia. But since the 2000s, Russia has seen what appears to be a westernization of Ukraine. After the upheaval in 2014 in Ukraine, conflict broke out between Russia and Ukraine and cyberattacks with links to Russia have been involved almost from the very beginning.

Go deeper: Russia’s test ground for cyberwarRussian hackers targeting U.S. Senate ahead of 2018 midterms ... The world’s top cyber powers

Go deeper

U.S. coronavirus updates: Death toll tops 5,000

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Map: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

The novel coronavirus has now killed more than 5,100 people in the United States, as more state governors issued stay-at-home orders Wednesday to curb the spread. Over 216,000 people are now infected and more than 8,500 others have recovered.

The state of play: Trump administration officials are anonymously sounding the alarm that America's emergency stockpile of personal protective equipment is running dangerously low, the Washington Post reports.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 27 mins ago - Health

Trump admin won't reopen ACA enrollment for uninsured amid outbreak

President Trump speaks while flanked by Vice President Mike Pence during the daily coronavirus task force briefing at the White House on Tuesday. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

The Trump administration has decided not to reopen enrollment to uninsured Americans for the Affordable Care Act's Healthcare.gov marketplaces, an official confirmed to Axios Wednesday.

Driving the news: President Trump said last week he was considering the move in response to the novel coronavirus outbreak, notes Politico, which first reported the news.

Go deeperArrow40 mins ago - Health

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 11:30 p.m. ET: 937,091 — Total deaths: 47,231 — Total recoveries: 193,764Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 11:30 ET: 216,515, — Total deaths: 5,119 — Total recoveries: 8,593Map.
  3. Business updates: Small businesses are bearing the brunt of the coronavirus job crisis.
  4. World updates: Spain’s confirmed cases surpassed 100,000, and the nation saw its biggest daily death toll so far. More than 500 people were reported dead within the last 24 hours in the U.K., per Johns Hopkins.
  5. State updates: Florida and Pennsylvania are the latest states to issue stay-at-home orders — Michigan has more than 9,000 confirmed cases, an increase of 1,200 and 78 new deaths in 24 hours.
  6. Stock market updates: Stocks closed more than 4% lower on Wednesday, continuing a volatile stretch for the stock market amid the coronavirus outbreak.
  7. 1 future thing: Shifts to telemedicine, at-home diagnostics, and drone delivery are all likely lasting consequences from this pandemic.
  8. What should I do? Answers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingQ&A: Minimizing your coronavirus risk.
  9. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it.

Subscribe to Mike Allen's Axios AM to follow our coronavirus coverage each morning from your inbox.