In a Friday call with Russia’s President Vladimir Putin, President Biden told the leader that he must “take action” against ransomware cybercriminals based in his country who have attacked the United States.
Signaling the attacks on U.S. infrastructure and businesses have moved from only warnings and being treated as criminal acts to national security threats, Biden insisted Putin must act.
“I made it very clear to [Putin] that the United States expects when a ransomware operation is coming from his soil even though it’s not sponsored by the state, we expect them to act if we give them enough information to act on who that is,” Biden said.
Biden added that his hourlong call conversation with the Russian leader “went well” and that he is “optimistic” about relations moving forward.
According to the New York Times, when Biden was asked by a reporter if continued inaction by Putin could result in retaliatory consequences against the servers Russian cybercriminals have used to hijack American networks, Biden responded, “Yes.”
Friday’s warning was more pointed than those previously asserted by the White House. The Times reported that an attack by REvil, a Russian ransomware group, over July 4th “was an escalation.”
Officials told the Times, that not only did REvil’s latest attack come after the two leaders met in Geneva just last month, but the size and scope of the group’s attack on a Florida technology company were “unusually advanced” and, had it not been caught quickly, “the effects could have been cataclysmic.”