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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.

Details:

  • 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

Dominion sends cease and desist letter to My Pillow CEO Mike Lindell

Photo: Stephen Maturen/Getty Images

Dominion Voting Systems on Monday sent a cease and desist letter to My Pillow CEO Mike Lindell over his spread of misinformation related to the 2020 election.

Why it matters: Trump and several of his allies have pushed false conspiracy theories about the company, leading Dominion to take legal action. It's suing pro-Trump lawyer Sidney Powell for defamation and $1.3 billion in damages, and a Dominion employee has sued Trump himself, OANN and Newsmax.

Off the Rails

Episode 5: The secret CIA plan

Photo illustration: Aïda Amer, Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photo: Zach Gibson/Getty Images

Beginning on election night 2020 and continuing through his final days in office, Donald Trump unraveled and dragged America with him, to the point that his followers sacked the U.S. Capitol with two weeks left in his term. This Axios series takes you inside the collapse of a president.

Episode 5: Trump vs. Gina — The president becomes increasingly rash and devises a plan to tamper with the nation's intelligence command.

In his final weeks in office, after losing the election to Joe Biden, President Donald Trump embarked on a vengeful exit strategy that included a hasty and ill-thought-out plan to jam up CIA Director Gina Haspel by firing her top deputy and replacing him with a protege of Republican Congressman Devin Nunes.

Updated 6 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

  1. Health: CDC director defends agency's response to pandemic — CDC warns highly transmissible coronavirus variant could become dominant in U.S. in March.
  2. Politics: Empire State Building among hundreds to light up in Biden inauguration coronavirus tribute.
  3. Vaccine: Fauci: 100 million doses in 100 days is "absolutely" doable.
  4. Economy: Unemployment filings explode again.
  5. Tech: Kids' screen time sees a big increase.