US threatens to intervene if Russia does not take action against hackers

If Russia does not act against hackers living within its borders, the US retains the right to intervene itself. The Russian government may not be behind the cyber attack, but President Vladimir Putin does have a responsibility to act against the perpetrators. Meanwhile, high-level consultations are underway between US and Russian experts.

US and Russia discuss cybersecurity issues

Psaki extensively discussed the approach to the corona pandemic in the US and the visits that President Joe Biden will soon be making. Another topic raised by the journalists present is the cyber attack on Kaseya. One of the journalists presents asked the press secretary whether contact has been made with Russia about the attack.

Psaki says that since the meeting between President Biden and President Putin – which took place on June 16 in Geneva, Switzerland – so-called ‘expert-level talks’ have taken place between the two countries. Another meeting like this is scheduled for next week. This consultation is about ransomware attacks.

Russia has a responsibility to act against hackers

The message from US officials and diplomats is crystal clear, according to Psaki: if the Russian government is unable or refuses to take action against hackers carrying out cyber attacks, the US will take matters into its own hands. The cybersecurity community claims that REvil is behind the recent supply chain attack and operates out of Russia. That will be passed on to the Russians next week.

Even if the Russian government has not ordered the attack, Psaki says it still has the responsibility to intervene. “That is and remains the position of the president and the government,” she emphasizes. The press secretary cannot say anything about any actions that the US will then take against Russia. National security teams are currently discussing options.

Earlier this week, President Biden said he was not 100 per cent sure that the Russians were responsible for the attack, which killed between 800 and 1,500 worldwide. The FBI and cyber agency CISA are currently investigating the matter. If it turns out that Russia is behind the attack, he will address President Putin about it.

Biden critical of his predecessor Trump

Psaki says repelling cyber-attacks has been a top priority for President Biden from day one. Even before he officially took office as president of the United States, he strongly criticized his predecessor Donald Trump and his approach to cyberterrorism. The SolarWinds attack was a sign, in Biden’s eyes, that the government was unprepared for a sophisticated attack.

“The truth is, President Trump’s administration did not prioritize cybersecurity,” Biden said at a cybersecurity news conference last December. Former President Trump had transferred cyber coordinators in the White House and Congress and fired Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) head Christopher Krebs. Finally, Trump downplayed the impact of the attack.

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