Ukrainian firm at center of cyber attack could face charges

Technology > Security

The small Ukrainian tax software company, regarded as the source of a damaging cyber virus that struck globally last week, is under investigation and could be held criminally liable.

Col. Serhiy Demydiuk, head of Ukraine’s national Cyberpolice unit, maintained that employees of the Kiev-based M.E. Doc had ignored repeated warnings about the security of their information technology infrastructure.

“They knew about it,” Demydiuk told The Associated Press while being interviewed in his office on Monday, July 3. “They were told many times by various anti-virus firms. … For this neglect, the people in this case will face criminal responsibility.”

Demydiuk and other officials say that last week’s cyberattack was mainly spread through a malicious update to M.E. Doc’s eponymous tax software program, which is widely used by accountants and businesses across Ukraine.

The malicious update, suspected to be planted on M.E. Doc’s update server by a hacker, infected systems across Ukraine before exploding into an epidemic of data-scrambling software that hit both Ukrainian and several other multinational firms.

M.E. Doc initially denied having a hand in the malicious software’s spread but later deleted the statement from Facebook. The company has yet to comment on the issue, but its management stressed that it is cooperating with authorities,

Ukrainian authorities have blamed Russia for masterminding the outbreak, although several independent experts are still skeptical.  Ukraine has repeatedly come under fire from high-powered cyberattacks tied to Moscow.

As of Monday, July 3, the extent of the damage is still unclear in Ukraine.  Demydiuk said his service was still collating figures and declined to even provide an estimate.  It is clear though that the economic disruption has been huge as some bank employees have not been to work in days.

Hanna Rybalka, who works at the state-owned Oschadbank’s headquarters in Kiev, said that business has taken nearly a week to recover.

“Today is the first day of full-time work,” she said in a recent Facebook message.


Photo Source: Christoph Scholz via Flickr