Senior US officials gathered at the White House on Wednesday to evaluate actions aimed at stopping ransomware attacks, while increasing pressure on President Joe Biden to take action against Russia over recent cyberattacks.
Days after hundreds of companies in the United States and some 1,500 around the world saw their computer systems apparently hijacked by Russia-based ransomware group REvilThere were calls for harsh counterattacks by Pentagon cyber soldiers and also demanding more sanctions against Moscow.
The meeting at the White House, In which officials from the Departments of State, National Security, Justice and Intelligence participated, it also followed reports that suspected Russian hackers had attempted to break into the systems of the National Committee of the opposition Republican Party.
After the meeting, Biden told reporters that he would send a message to Russian President Vladimir Putin on the matter, without offering any details about it.
White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki said Wednesday’s meeting was about a “government-wide effort to act on ransomware attacks.”
“The president has a range of options if he decides to take action” against the attackers, he added.
Psaki, however, did not say what steps Biden is considering taking.
But as the attacks continued three weeks after Biden raised the issue in direct talks with Putin at a summit in Geneva, there were more calls for the US ruler to retaliate.
In an op-ed in The Washington Post on Wednesday, cybersecurity expert Dmitri Alperovitch and Wilson Center Russia expert Matthew Rojansky urged Biden to sanction Russian oil and gas companies, one of the main sources. financing of Moscow.
“Before these devastating ransomware attacks become routine, President Biden must present a calm but forceful demand: Russian President Vladimir Putin must immediately end this activity or Washington will tighten sanctions on the Russian economy.” they wrote.
A group of Republican House lawmakers said in a statement that continued cyberattacks make it clear that Putin “ignored” Biden’s warnings.
“Putin will not stop these criminals unless he knows that he will face real and serious consequences if he does not,” they opined.