The June 2017 attack, delivered through a mock ransomware virus dubbed NotPetya, wiped data from the computers of banks, energy firms, senior government officials and an airport, The Washington Post wrote.
Read alsoSBU exposes Russian origin of recent cyberattacks on governmental, infrastructural information systemsThe GRU military spy agency created NotPetya, the CIA concluded with "high confidence" in November, according to classified reports cited by U.S. intelligence officials.
The CIA declined to comment.
Ukraine has been a significant target of GRU cyberattacks coinciding with Russia's annexation of Crimea and aggression elsewhere. The NotPetya assault was launched on Ukraine's Constitution Day, a public holiday.
The virus also affected computer systems in Denmark, India and the United States, but more than half of those victimized were in Ukraine.
The attacks reflect Russia's mounting aggression in cyberspace as part of a larger "hybrid warfare" doctrine that marries traditional military means with cyber-tools to achieve its goal of regional dominance. "It's a pattern of more bold, aggressive action," said Robert Hannigan, former head of Britain's GCHQ intelligence agency.
The hackers used what is known as a "watering hole" attack. They infected a website to which they knew their targets would navigate — in this case, a Ukrainian site that delivered updates for tax and accounting software programs.
It's a tactic that Russian government hackers also have used to compromise industrial control system networks. The goal here was "the disruption of Ukraine's financial system," said Jake Williams, founder of the cybersecurity firm Rendition Infosec.
In a twist, the attackers used malware that appeared to be ransomware — a technique that encrypts victims' data and decrypts it only if a ransom is paid, to make it appear as though criminal hackers or some group other than a nation state were the culprits.