Time and again, the US is a victim of cyber attacks. US President Joe Biden therefore wants to increase security within its own ranks – and sends a clear warning to major powers such as China and Russia.
US President Joe Biden has warned of war as a result of a large-scale cyberattack. “If we end in a war, a real war with a great power, then as a result of a cyberattack of great scope,” he said on Tuesday (local time) during the first visit to the Office of the Intelligence Service Coordination (ODNI) since taking office. “And the capabilities (for such a cyberattack) are increasing exponentially,” he added. Most recently, the US blamed both China and Russia for major cyberattacks.
The US government and several allies recently accused China of “irresponsible, malicious cyber activities”. The allegations also came from the EU, Great Britain, NATO and other partners. Among other things, the USA sees China behind the attack on the “Exchange Server” e-mail software from the US group Microsoft in March.
Cyberattacks again and again
With regard to Russia, on the other hand, the USA criticizes two different types of hacker attacks: on the one hand, by criminals who, according to the USA, can attack targets abroad undisturbed; on the other hand from Russian secret services to ministries, authorities and companies in the USA. You have already imposed sanctions on Russia for this reason. The Russian government denies such attacks.
It was not until the beginning of July that hackers attacked a vulnerability in the American I.T service provider Kaseya offers hundreds of blackmail software companies. The REvil group, located by experts in Russia, demanded 70 million US dollars (around 59 million euros) in the digital currency Bitcoin for a master key to all affected computers. The same group was behind the attack on the world’s largest meat company JBS a few weeks ago. As a result, the company had to close plants for several days, including in the USA. JBS paid the attackers the equivalent of eleven million dollars in cryptocurrencies.
Biden: Cyber attacks are increasingly causing damage
A few weeks before JBS, it hit the operator of one of the most important gasoline pipelines in the United States. The stop of the pumps partly triggered panic buying on the US east coast. The operating company Colonial paid the hackers $ 4.4 million – a good half of which was, however, confiscated by the FBI on the Internet a little later.
“We’ve seen cyber threats, including ransomware attacks, increasingly capable of causing damage and disruption in the real world,” said Biden. And literally: “I can’t guarantee that, and you are as well informed as I am, but I think it’s more likely (…) if we end up in a war, a real war with a great power, then as a result of one Serious cyberattack. “
Biden sends tabulists to Putin
Amid high tensions over the recent hacker attacks, Biden and Russia’s President Vladimir Putin agreed at a summit meeting in Geneva in June that their governments would start talks on cybersecurity. It should be about addressing specific cases and defining goals that should be taboo for attacks. Biden had given Moscow a list of 16 areas of critical US infrastructure that should not be attacked by hackers. According to the US government, these include the food and energy sectors, transport and communication networks, banks and health facilities.
The US government presented plans on Wednesday to improve the protection of such critical infrastructures. Among other things, the US authority for cyber and infrastructure security (CISA) is to develop goals together with other bodies that private operators should adhere to to protect their systems.
The private sector owns most of the critical infrastructure
A senior government official said the state cannot act alone here, industry must do its part. Almost 90 percent of the critical infrastructure in the US is in the hands of the private sector. Initially, voluntary steps are planned to improve protection. The government is also considering issuing mandatory requirements to strengthen cybersecurity. There are currently no systematic regulations, only patches. This is “insufficient” in view of the growing threat.
In his address on Tuesday in the office of the intelligence coordination, which oversees 17 US intelligence services, Biden also struggled to repair damage from the past. His Republican predecessor Donald Trump had sharply criticized the intelligence services in some cases and, for example, questioned the findings of the American secret services about Russia’s interference in the US elections in 2016. Trump then duped his own people.
On the other hand, Biden expressed his confidence in the assembled secret service employees and promised never to “politicize” their work. Turning to Moscow and Putin, Biden said: “He knows that you (the US intelligence officials) are better than his own team – and that annoys him extremely.”