A Russian official says that the United States and Moscow are negotiating to set up a joint cybersecurity working group.
Andrey Krutskikh, a top adviser to Russian President Vladimir Putin on information security, was cited in Moscow’s RIA news agency on Thursday as saying that talks on the joint group were ongoing.
President Trump raised eyebrows when he said following a meeting with Putin on the sidelines of the G-20 summit in Hamburg, Germany, that the two had discussed setting up “an impenetrable cybersecurity unit” to protect against hacking related to elections.
After receiving broad criticism, Trump walked back the statement, saying it “can’t happen.”
Last week, a White House official told reporters that the unit could be pursued in the future but indicated that it would be meant to start a dialogue about norms in cyberspace and would not involve sharing intelligence.
“What was broached at that [Group of 20] conversation, as I understand it, was an opportunity to continue a dialogue — one that had in the past existed between the two countries, and I think one that we could pursue in the future with the appropriate reservations and the appropriate expectations, that we at least start with what is acceptable behavior in cyberspace and what norms and expectations that we'll have moving forward,” White House homeland security adviser Tom Bossert told reporters aboard Air Force One on Friday.
The U.S. intelligence community has concluded that Moscow directed hacks of the Democratic National Committee and Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta in an effort to influence the 2016 presidential election — a matter Trump said he raised twice during his meeting with the Russian president. Russia has repeatedly denied having a hand in the effort.
Trump has come under increased scrutiny in recent days after it was revealed that he and Putin had a second, previously undisclosed conversation on the sidelines of the summit in Germany earlier this month.
The federal investigation into Russian interference — which includes looking at potential ties between Trump's campaign and Moscow — has dogged the first months of Trump's presidency.