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R.N.C cyberattack tests Biden’s patience with Russia

By Shubhangi on Jul 08, 2021 | 05:38 AM IST

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A cyberattack on a contractor for Republican National Committee by Russian hackers was reported last week.

R.N.C. in a statement said on Tuesday that Synnex, one its technology providers, had been hacked. On Sunday, Russian-based cybercriminal organization, REvil took responsibility of the cyberattack.

The attack comes just weeks after President Biden has met Russian President Vladimir Putin and demanded that Russia prevented ransomware activities against United States.

Biden had said that he has presented a list of 16 critical sectors of the American economy to Putin and if these sectors are attacked it would provoke a response.

“If, in fact, they violate these basic norms, we will respond with cyber,” Mr. Biden said at a news conference immediately after the meeting, reported the Wall Street Journal. “He knows.” But he quickly added of Mr. Putin that “I think that the last thing he wants now is a Cold War.”

White House officials were preparing to discuss the cyberattack on Wednesday.

Though the White House did not directly mention the breach but said Biden plans to gather officials from several agencies in the Situation Room on Wednesday morning “to discuss the Biden-Harris administration’s overall strategic efforts to counter ransomware.”

In the summit last month, Biden addressed the issue of ransomware and warned that US would not tolerate it. He also mentioned the attack on Colonial Pipeline in June and one on the meat-processing plants.

Jen Psaki, the White House press secretary, on Tuesday said that American and Russian officials will meet next week to discuss the cyberattacks.

Putin, in his speech on Saturday on the rollout of Russia’s latest national security strategy that outlines measures to respond to foreign influence, said that Russian “traditional spiritual-moral and cultural-historical values are under active attack from the U.S. and its allies,” reported WSJ.

Cybersecurity experts say that the comment by Putin was his response to the summit with Biden.

“Biden did a good job laying down a marker, but when you’re a thug, the first thing you do is test that red line,” said James A. Lewis, a cybersecurity expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, reported WSJ. “And that’s what we’re seeing here.”

Lewis added that “low-end penalties” like sanctions had been exhausted. “The White House will have to use more aggressive measures, whether that is something in cyberspace, or a more painful legal or financial maneuver,” he said.

(With inputs from WSJ)

Picture Credits: WSJ

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