President Joe Biden "reserves the right" to retaliate if Russian President Vladimir Putin opts against cracking down on hackers operating within the country's borders after the online incursion of software company Kaseya.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki said the administration has yet to attribute the cyberattack to gang REvil, believed to be based in Russia. But U.S. national security officials had spoken with high-ranking Kremlin counterparts after Kaseya reported up to 1,500 businesses were compromised, possibly the single biggest hack on record.
"If the Russian government cannot or will not take action against criminal actors residing in Russia, we will take action or reserve the right to take action on our own," she told reporters on Tuesday.
Cybersecurity was a top agenda item for Biden during his summit last month with Putin in Geneva. Since those meetings, experts from both countries have discussed the threat, with talks specifically regarding ransomware scheduled for next week, Psaki said. A domestic interagency conversation between the State Department, Justice Department, Homeland Security Department, and the intelligence community will take place on Wednesday.
The White House's position remains that ransoms should not be paid by U.S. companies, according to Psaki. While the administration was encouraging the private sector to harden its own networks, she said the federal government would "continue to be partners."
"It's important to, of course, protect our critical infrastructure, but also protect it, do it, play what role we can from the federal government to ensure that impacts on smaller businesses, on mom and pop shops, are minimized as well," she added.
Miami-based Kaseya confirmed 50 direct customers had been affected by the July Fourth weekend attack but that some of those entities provided IT services to other businesses.
REvil has demanded $70 million in Bitcoin cryptocurrency for a tool to descramble all locked machines. The group had previously requested $11 million from the meat-processor JBS after a Memorial Day infiltration.
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Original Author: Naomi Lim