The White House stated that the U.S. has the right to "defend its citizens and its critical infrastructure," and that it would continue to do so.
This conversation took place less than a month following the meeting in Geneva. Biden had warned about continuing cyberattacks from Russia. Last weekend saw widespread disruption caused by a ransomware attack that was linked to the REvil hacking organization based in Russia. It affected as many as 1,500 business.
Biden spoke to reporters at an economic competition event and stated that he made it clear to him that the United States expects ransomware operations to be carried out from his soil, even though they are not sponsored by the State. He answered, "Yes," when asked if there would be consequences.
This call highlighted the severity of the ransomware threat posed by criminal hacker groups and made it a pressing national security problem for the White House. It also suggested that the administration might accept that previous warnings to Putin have not been effective in curbing criminal activity targeting businesses around the world.
The White House announced the call with an hour-long announcement that highlighted a U.S. and Russian agreement that will allow humanitarian assistance to flow into Syria. These two prongs show that even though Biden promises to be tough on Russia over hacking attacks, there is an inherent desire to not increase tensions. The administration seeks Russia's cooperation, or at the very least, not interfere with U.S. actions elsewhere, including Syria and Afghanistan withdrawal.
The White House stated that Biden had "understood the necessity for Russia to take actions to disrupt ransomware organizations operating in Russia" during his talks with Putin about hacking. It also "reiterated that America will take all necessary steps to defend its people, critical infrastructure and citizens in the face this ongoing challenge."
The White House stated that Biden "emphasized that" he was committed to continuing engagement on the larger threat posed ransomware.
Biden stated to reporters that Russia and the U.S. have "set up a method of communication now on an ongoing basis to be in a position to communicate with each other when either of us believes something is happening to the home country." It worked well. "I'm optimistic."
According to the Kremlin, Putin noted that "despite Russia's willingness to stop criminal activities within the information sphere jointly, U.S. agencies hadn't made any requests over the past month."
According to the Kremlin, the leaders stressed the importance of cybersecurity cooperation. It stated that the two leaders met via special communication channels and in accordance with international law.
In a statement, the Kremlin noted that Biden had spoken to Putin about the situation in Syria with a particular emphasis on humanitarian issues and "gave an optimistic assessment of the coordination of Russian-American efforts on this issue, including in U.N. Security Council."
Although the White House refused to comment on Biden's call, Jen Psaki, the White House press secretary, said that it was focusing heavily on the latest breach. Cybersecurity researchers believe that at least 17 countries were infected by the virus via firms that remotely manage IT infrastructures for multiple customers.
Although Biden previously stated that the attack caused "minimal damage" and did not seem to target vital infrastructures, the magnitude of the incident and the timing of it put pressure on the administration for a response.
Officials didn't immediately disclose any concrete actions or plans they might consider taking. There are not many options that can be used to address the threat. This could lead to a conflict beyond cybersecurity.
After a huge cyberespionage campaign called SolarWinds, which U.S. officials linked to Russian intelligence operatives, the Biden administration was inaugurated. Ransomware attacks are more likely to be perpetrated by criminal hackers than state-sponsored hackers.
The company was temporarily shut down after a May attack on a pipeline which supplies half of the East Coast's fuel. Colonial Pipeline was held hostage for $4.4 million. However, the United States authorities were able last month to recover a significant portion of this ransom in a law enforcement operation.
Hackers recently demanded $11 million ransom from JBS SA (the largest meat processor in the world).