Biden ‘optimistic’ after phone call with Putin on cyber attacks

Political News

WASHINGTON (KXAN) — The largest ransomware attack in U.S. history is worrying some lawmakers, but President Biden said he is optimistic after a phone call with Putin earlier Friday.

This afternoon Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin had their first public conversation since the summit last month in Geneva. Biden pressed Putin in a call to crackdown on these attacks.

Biden said he “underscored the need for Russia to take action to disrupt ransomware groups operating in Russia and emphasized that he is committed to continued engagement on the broader threat posed by ransomware.”

Biden said he has established a more direct means of communication with Putin.

This comes as the attack is believed to have originated in Russia over the Fourth of July weekend. The Russian-language group REvil is suspected to be behind the attacks.

The group hacked Kaseya, an international IT management software company. They are asking for $70 million in cryptocurrency to give back the stolen data. At least 200 U.S. companies were affected by this attack over the weekend.

During an interview for KXAN’s State of Texas, Texas Congressman Michael McCaul said coming to an agreement with Russia is unlikely.

“Well, it’s hard to work with Russia, any foreign nation adversary like China, Russia, Iran, North Korea — they all perpetrate these cyber-attacks on a daily basis,” said McCaul.

Ransomware attacks have surged 300% since the beginning of the year. McCaul said Russia is testing the new administration, and Biden and the U.S. need to take a harder line, including “direct action.”

“I do think that Mr. Putin is behind this, I think he tacitly approves whether the Russian mafia or state-sponsored attacks,” McCaul said. “It’s all coming out of the Kremlin, and I think we have to be strong in our response.”

McCaul said after attacks like last weekend, he is looking to pass a bill to designate a cybersecurity ambassador.

“…to establish norms and standards in the international space, which is the key thing that’s missing right now,” McCaul said. “We need international norms and standards that we don’t have currently in my lead position on the Foreign Affairs Committee.”

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