In a phone conversation on Friday, President Joe Biden informed Russian President Vladimir Putin that he must “take actions” against cybercriminals operating in his country. He also said that the U.S. has the right to defend its citizens and critical infrastructure from any future attacks. The White House stated.
This warning to Putin was largely an echo of the harsh rhetoric Biden used last month during their meeting in Geneva, where he warned there would be consequences for cyberattacks continuing from Russia. A ransomware attack on the Russia-based REvil hacking organization has caused widespread disruption. Biden is now under increasing pressure to combine the warning with action, though no immediate announcement was made.
Biden spoke to reporters at an economic competition event and stated that the United States expects ransomware operations to originate from his soil. He answered, “Yes” when asked if there would be consequences.
Putin’s call highlighted the severity of the ransomware threat posed by criminal hacker groups. It also suggested that the White House might accept that earlier warnings to Putin had not been effective in curbing criminal activity targeting businesses around the world.
The White House released a statement announcing the call, which also mentioned a U.S.-Russian deal that will allow humanitarian assistance to flow into Syria. These two prongs show that even though Biden promises to be tough on Russia over hacking it is not easy to stop tensions from rising. The administration wants Russia to cooperate or at least not interfere with U.S. actions elsewhere, such as Syria withdrawal and climate change.
The White House stated that Biden spoke with Putin and emphasized the need for Russia’s action. They also said that the U.S. is ready to respond.
Biden stated to reporters that Russia and the U.S. have “set up a method of communication now on an ongoing basis to be in a position to communicate with each other when either of us believes something is happening to the home country.” It worked well. “I’m optimistic.”
The Kremlin’s own summary of the call stated that “Putin noted the fact that despite Russia’s willingness to stop criminal activities within the information sphere and U.S. agencies having not made any requests in the past month.”
According to the Kremlin, the leaders stressed the importance of cybersecurity cooperation. It stated that the two leaders met via special communication channels and in accordance with international law.
In a statement, the Kremlin noted that Biden had spoken to Putin about the situation in Syria with a particular emphasis on humanitarian issues and that they “gave a positive evaluation of the coordination of Russian-American efforts on this issue, including in U.N. Security Council.”
Although the White House refused to comment on Biden’s call’s tone, Jen Psaki, the White House press secretary, said that it was focusing heavily on the latest breach. Cybersecurity researchers believe that at least 17 countries were infected by the virus, although Jen Psaki, Jen Psaki, and other firms that remotely manage IT infrastructures for multiple customers, are among the most affected.
Although Biden previously stated that the attack caused “minimal damage” and did not seem to target vital infrastructures, the magnitude of the incident and the timing of it put pressure on the administration for a response.
Officials didn’t immediately disclose any concrete actions or plans they might consider taking. There are not many options that can be used to address the threat. This could lead to a conflict beyond cybersecurity.
After a huge cyberespionage campaign called SolarWinds, which U.S. officials linked to Russian intelligence operatives, the Biden administration was inaugurated. Ransomware attacks are more likely to be perpetrated by criminal hackers than state-sponsored hackers.
The company was temporarily shut down after a May attack on a pipeline which supplies half of the East Coast’s fuel. Colonial Pipeline was held hostage for $4.4 million. However, the United States authorities were able last month to recover a significant portion of this ransom in a law enforcement operation.
Hackers also extorted a ransom payment of $11 million from JBS SA, the largest meat processor in the world.