Krebs: US should be 'cautious' about escalating cyber war with Russia

Former Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) chief Christopher Krebs in an interview on Sunday poured cold water on lawmakers' calls for retaliation in response to a cyber intrusion at numerous government agencies believed to be carried out by Russia.

Speaking with CNN's Jake TapperJacob (Jake) Paul TapperHouse Republican calls second bout of COVID-19 'far more challenging' Fauci says vulnerable populations may need vaccine booster shots Sunday shows - Jan. 6 investigation dominates MORE on "State of the Union," Krebs said that lawmakers such as Sen. Mitt RomneyWillard (Mitt) Mitt RomneyTransit funding, broadband holding up infrastructure deal Schumer leaves door open for second vote on bipartisan infrastructure deal Bipartisan group says it's still on track after setback on Senate floor MORE (R-Utah,) who called for "a cyber response of like magnitude or greater" earlier on the program, should be "cautious." 

“I’d be very careful with escalating this," Krebs responded.

"We need a conversation among like-minded countries" about what are acceptable forms of cyber espionage, the former U.S. cybersecurity chief added.

Krebs was also asked during the interview about tweets on Saturday from President TrumpDonald TrumpRonny Jackson, former White House doctor, predicts Biden will resign McCarthy: Pelosi appointing members of Jan. 6 panel who share 'pre-conceived narrative' Kinzinger denounces 'lies and conspiracy theories' while accepting spot on Jan. 6 panel MORE, who contradicted top U.S. officials and suggested China's involvement in both the cyberattack as well as unfounded allegations of intrusions into U.S. voting systems.

“It’s Russia," Krebs responded on Sunday, before adding of Russia's intelligence service, the SVR: "They are exceptionally good at it.”

The hack was possible, he added, because outdated systems are still being used across government agencies that have not upgraded their capabilities in years and were not "optimized" to be defended easily.

Krebs was fired last month by the president after the former CISA leader declared that the 2020 election had been free of foreign influence and the most secure in U.S. history, contradicting the president's own evidence-free claims of widespread voter fraud and corruption.

The president has remained largely focused on his so far unsuccessful efforts to overturn his election defeat, and has only commented a handful of times on other issues in recent days.