Biden says he will deliver message to Putin about ransomware attack
Bodies of 9 plane crash victims found in wreckage
RNC servers reportedly hacked by Russia-linked group
White House won’t say Russia behind ransomware attack
Rep. John Katko calls most recent ransomware attack a ‘moment of reckoning’
Amid mounting pressure to confront President Vladimir Putin about the recent ransomware attacks credited to a Russian cyber gang, President Biden said Wednesday he will personally convey a message to the Russian leader after the most recent attack impacting hundreds of US companies.
“I will deliver it to him,” Biden told reporters at the White House as he prepared to depart for a trip to Chicago.
Biden made the comments shortly after attending a meeting of key leaders from the State Department, the Justice Department, Homeland Security and the intelligence community to discuss the administration’s efforts to counter the cyberattacks, the White House said.
Republicans have been calling on Biden to take a firm stand on the ransomware attacks, reminding the president of his Geneva summit last month when he claimed to have warned Putin that he must take responsibility for the cyberattacks originating in Russia.
Rep. John Katko (R-NY), a member of the House Homeland Security Commission, called it a “moment of reckoning” for the US-Russia relationship.
“We’re facing a moment of reckoning when it comes to deterrence,” Katko said in a statement to The Post on Tuesday. “Adversaries like Russia are creating safe havens for bad actors and we must project strength.”
The Russia-based REvil cybercrime group launched a ransomware attack against at least 200 American companies last Friday and is demanding they pay $70 million in bitcoin to have their data returned.
The administration has said the intelligence community hasn’t indicated that Russia was behind the attack that targeted the Miami-based software company Kaseya and affected the data of hundreds of small businesses.
Biden claimed it “caused minimal damage to US businesses” and that the intelligence community was still investigating.
But REvil took responsibility for the ransomware attack.
“On Friday we launched an attack on [managed service providers]. More than a million systems were infected,” the group said in a posting on the dark website Happy Blog.
Raising the stakes, reports on Tuesday said members of Cozy Bear, the same Russian hacking group involved in last year’s SolarWinds cyber intrusion, targeted the Republican National Committee by going through a third-party provider.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki confirmed an RNC statement that no data was accessed in the hack and the FBI is investigating.
During the Wednesday briefing on Air Force One, she was asked about the possibility of slapping Russia with sanctions over the RNC hack.
“It’s not in our interest to review those or preview our punches. As I like to say, the president has a range of options should he determine to take action,” Psaki said.
She also offered a summary of the morning’s ransomware task force meeting at the White House.
“They provided an update on their ongoing work, surge capacity, resilience and recording addressing payment systems and our ongoing efforts to combat ransomware,” she said. “We don’t have anything new to report in terms of attribution, nor do we have anything to do with you in terms of operational actions or considerations.”
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