Biden to meet with federal agencies to address ransomware concerns this week

Biden to meet with federal agencies to address ransomware concerns this week
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President BidenJoe BidenHouse Democrat threatens to vote against party's spending bill if HBCUs don't get more federal aid Overnight Defense & National Security — The Pentagon's deadly mistake Haitians stuck in Texas extend Biden's immigration woes MORE on Wednesday will meet with officials at several federal agencies to discuss solutions for confronting the ongoing wave of ransomware attacks. 

“Tomorrow the president will convene key leaders across the interagency, including the State Department, Department of Justice, DHS [Department of Homeland Security] and members of the intelligence community to discuss ransomware and our overall strategic efforts to counter it,” White House press secretary Jen PsakiJen PsakiOvernight Health Care — FDA panel backs boosters for some, but not all White House to host global COVID-19 summit next week Overnight Defense & National Security: US-Australian sub deal causes rift with France MORE told reporters Tuesday. 

She stressed that the spike in ransomware attacks, including one Friday on software group Kaseya that potentially compromised up to 1,500 companies, was a key topic of concern for Biden. 

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“It is something that from day one he has made a priority and has asked his team to focus on where we can have an impact, how we can better work with the private sector, and what we can do across the federal government to help address and reduce ransomware attacks on our critical infrastructure but also on a range of entities in the United States,” Psaki said.

Psaki noted that Wednesday’s meeting with the various agencies comes weeks after Biden asked officials to “review and assess what our options are,” including how to better engage with the private sector in confronting ransomware attacks. 

“We are continuing to up our partnership with the private sector, which is a key part of best practices in ensuring we are reducing the impact, I should say the vulnerability, of private sector entities,” Psaki said. “There is more that can be done, and it warrants and requires an interagency process and discussion in order to move these policies forward.”

The meeting comes as the administration scrambles to respond to the ransomware attack on Kaseya, which experts believe was likely carried out by the Russian-based REvil group, though the federal government has not made an official attribution. Both the FBI and the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency are responding to the incident. 

The same ransomware group was linked by the FBI to an attack on JBS USA, the nation’s largest beef supplier, in May. Another Russian-based cyber criminal group was linked to the ransomware attack on Colonial Pipeline earlier this year that crippled gas supply for the East Coast for a week in May. 

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U.S. intelligence agencies assessed earlier this year that Russian government hackers were behind the cyberattack on IT group SolarWinds, discovered in December, which led to nine federal agencies compromised for more than a year. 

Biden levied a sweeping set of sanctions on Russia as a result of the SolarWinds attack, and cybersecurity concerns were a key topic of conversation with Russian President Vladimir PutinVladimir Vladimirovich PutinHillicon Valley — Facebook 'too late' curbing climate falsities France pulls ambassadors to US, Australia in protest of submarine deal Apple, Google remove Navalny app as Russian elections begin MORE during their meeting in Switzerland last month. He warned Putin there and during other public remarks that he would take further actions if Russian hacking efforts continued. 

Psaki said Tuesday that meetings were ongoing between Russian and U.S. officials to address cybersecurity concerns. 

“The meeting with the Russian president was just a couple of weeks ago. We’ve had ongoing meetings at the expert level pretty much since that time, and there is another meeting scheduled for next week,” Psaki told reporters.