WASHINGTON - Three weeks after warning Vladimir Putin to stop criminal hackers from striking the U.S. inside Russia, President Joe Biden has been under pressure to address the claim of responsibility made by a Russia-based hacking organization for what is being called "the largest ransomware attack" in history.
Officials at the White House had stated that they didn't believe Biden's demand for Putin's immediate effect and would allow it six months to assess if cyberattacks from Russia have tapered. A massive ransomware attack from within Russia on Friday has changed that calculus.
Experts believe the attack was carried out in part by REvil, an unknown group of Russian-speaking hackers who are believed to be operating inside America. It targeted hundreds of American companies, as well as more than a thousand people across 30 countries.
REvil demanded $70million to unlock data from the companies. This was after an attack that experts claim was especially devious. It spread malware by co-opting software of trusted information technology businesses in a way previously used mainly by government intelligence agencies.
Biden claimed that his intelligence agencies weren't certain that the attack was from Russia over the weekend. He said that if this is true, he would tell Putin that he would respond.
Biden stated that he would be able to tell more on Sunday, but there was no announcement Sunday or Monday. The White House and Director of National Intelligence didn't respond to NBC on Tuesday regarding questions about who was responsible for what Biden might have done.
"What President Biden can do and I expect he will do is demand that Russia fulfill its obligations and stop its territory being used for criminal acts," stated Sen. Mark Warner (D.-Va.), the chairman of Senate Intelligence Committee in a statement to NBC News. Putin could arrest and bring these criminals to trial in Russia if he wants Russia to become a productive member the international community.
Continue the story
Warner noted that a Russian-signed international agreement prohibits cybercriminals from using their territory.
Dmitri Alperovitch (chair of Silverado Policy Accelerator), a cybersecurity expert, said that this is the moment when President Biden should pick up the phone to call Vladimir Putin.
He stated that it was clear that Biden's warning of Putin's impending doom to him "hasn't yet had an impact." We don't know why, but it could be that the message wasn't received and President Putin chose to ignore it. Maybe he didn't think this should be a top-priority issue. Perhaps he believed that this could be dealt with over time and through negotiations. We don't have the time. We must act now. We must act now. We must demand that the hackers be arrested and that the key is turned over to businesses who need it to decrypt the data.
Officials at the White House have previously downplayed concerns about the warning.
Jake Sullivan, National Security Adviser, stated June 18 that the measure was not based on a verbal promise from Vladimir Putin that Russian hackers would cease hacking. "We decided to determine whether attacks on our critical infrastructure from Russia will decline over the next six to twelve months."
According to translated translations, the latest cyberattack occurred in conjunction with a new Kremlin national security strategy that was published on Saturday. It strikes a confrontational tone about the U.S.A and the West.
According to Deutsche Welle, the 44-page document states that increasing pressure from Western countries is a threat to Russian society.
The new strategy states that "Westernization" of culture increases the risk that the Russian Federation will lose cultural sovereignty."
This document states that Russian traditional spiritual-moral and cultural historical values are being actively attacked by the U.S., and that Russia considers it legal to take both symmetrical or asymmetric measures to stop "unfriendly actions" from foreign countries.
Experts say that asymmetrical actions have included tolerating cybercrime against the West from within Russia.
Alperovitch stated that "Historically, these criminals have operated in Russia with impunity by and large, so long as they don’t target Russian business." "Russian law enforcement agencies have either ignored them or, worse, they recruited them to work in their intelligence apparatus for continued attacks on the west. They are receiving protection at the very minimum. This must stop.