President Biden warned on Monday that Russia was exploring possible cyber-attacks against the United States in retaliation for the economic sanctions imposed on Moscow for invading Ukraine.
In a statement issued days before he was due to travel to Brussels for the NATO summit, Mr. Biden encouraged private sector companies in the United States to strengthen their cyber security against possible violations by Russia.
“It’s part of Russia’s playbook,” he said. Biden said in a statement. “Today, my administration is repeating warnings based on developed intelligence that the Russian government is exploring alternatives to possible cyber attacks.”
The administration has no evidence of a specific, credible potential cyber-attack against the United States, but “early activity” targets critical infrastructure, according to Ann Newberger. Biden’s Deputy National Security Adviser for Cyber and Emerging Technology
This is not the first time the United States has warned that Russia could hack US companies because of the war in Ukraine. Ms. Neuberger said Monday’s warning was an attempt by the Biden administration to raise awareness of Russia’s ability to launch a digital attack on American infrastructure.
Ms. Neuberger said the administration recently observed “initial activity” for possible hacking of American infrastructure and shared that information with companies in a classified briefing last week. Such activity may include a scanning website for vulnerabilities. Ms. Neuberger clarified that there is still an active threat of Russian hacking against complex infrastructure facilities, including oil and energy companies and hospital systems.
“We need to do more to maintain the confidence that we have closed our digital doors, especially to Americans who rely on critical services,” she said. Most American critical infrastructure is operated by the private sector, Neuberger said. “Those owners and operators have the ability and responsibility to tighten the systems and networks on which we all rely.”
The White House last week briefed more than 100 companies in the United States on the best ways to protect against cyber attacks. The administration on Monday instructed companies to “immediately tighten your cyber defense” by recommending measures such as enabling multifactor authentication, ensuring offline backup of data and educating employees about hacking methods.
Mr Biden said in a statement.
Ms. Neuberger noted that Russia is still conducting cyber activities against Ukraine. Ukraine’s Minister of Digital Transformation, Mikhail Fedorov, said in mid-February that a cyber attack had taken place that month on the websites of Ukraine’s Defense Ministry and military, as well as at the interfaces of the country’s two largest banks, “targeting foreign intelligence services.”