UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab has issued a warning to Russia about sheltering those behind ransomware attacks.
Russia “can’t just wave their hands and say it’s nothing to do with them”, he said.
“Even if it is not directly linked to the state they have a responsibility to prosecute those gangs and individuals”.
Ransomware attacks delayed a return to the classroom in March at 80 schools and universities, he also revealed.
Raab’s remarks came as part of a keynote speech at the National Cyber Security Centre’s (NCSC) CYBERUK conference on Wednesday – his first major speech on cyber-security issues.
Hostile state actors and criminal gangs want to undermine the foundations of society and democracy, he said.
There is a clash between authoritarian and democratic states playing out in cyber-space at the moment, he added, with malicious cyber-actors the “industrial-scale vandals of the 21st century”.
He warned that cyber-attacks pose a real risk on a daily basis, with states using digital technology to sabotage and steal.
Those educational institutions hit by ransomware earlier this year – affecting their ability to return to in-person teaching – included schools, colleges and universities, the foreign secretary said. The NCSC has already issued a series of alerts on the issue.