Biden urges Putin to act on ransomware attacks, hints at retaliation

Biden urges Putin to act on ransomware attacks, hints at retaliation

President Joe Biden urged Russian President Vladimir Putin to take action against hackers in his country accused of recent ransomware attacks affecting thousands of businesses around the world, warning that the United States would defend networks deemed vital to the economy.
“I made it very clear to him that the United States expects a ransomware operation to come from its soil, even though it is not state sponsored, we expect it to act.” Biden told reporters at the White House on Friday after an hour-long call with the Russian leader.

Putin told Biden that their discussions on cybersecurity should be “professional and depoliticized” and that he welcomed “deep and constructive” cooperation on the issue, according to a Kremlin statement. He noted that the United States had not asked Russia for any assistance for the attacks last month.

The White House said in a statement that Biden “underscored the need for Russia to take action to disrupt ransomware groups operating in Russia and stressed that he is determined to continue his engagement against the broader threat posed by ransomware ”.

Biden stressed that the United States “will take all necessary measures to defend its people and its critical infrastructure in the face of this ongoing challenge,” the statement said.

The US president is under pressure to respond to a series of ransomware attacks believed to have originated in Russia, including a bold breach last week that affected more than 1,000 businesses with victims in at least 17 countries and a cyberattack on the Republican National Committee.

A Russian-linked ransomware gang known as REvil is believed to be behind the attack that affected Kaseya Ltd.’s IT management software. and Russian government hackers are believed to be responsible for the RNC attack, according to people familiar with the matter. The Biden administration has not officially attributed either of the attacks to Russia.

The assaults continued even after Biden established red lines for cyberattacks at a summit with Putin last month in Geneva. Biden said he gave Putin a list at the meeting of 16 critical sectors that, if attacked, could spark U.S. retaliation.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki said on Friday that REvil “operates in Russia and other countries around the world.”

But she said “we have no additional or new information to suggest that the Russian government led these attacks.”

IT officials from the United States and Russia are scheduled for talks next week, she said in a briefing.


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