US warns companies to be on guard against possible Russian cyberattacks: NPR
Alex Wong/Getty Images
The White House is warning companies that Russia may be considering launching cyberattacks on critical US infrastructure.
The United States has previously warned of the Russian government’s abilities to digitally attack American businesses, but President Biden reiterated the message on Monday, saying in a statement that “evolving intelligence” showed that Russia was “exploring options for potential cyberattacks”.
The potential attacks would be in response to US sanctions on Russia for its invasion of Ukraine, the White House said.
Deputy National Security Advisor for Cybersecurity and Emerging Technologies Anne Neuberger called on companies to secure their systems, including implementing multi-factor authentication, patching systems against known vulnerabilities, backing up data, by running drills and engaging with federal authorities before a cyberattack occurs.
Neuberger said the administration held classified briefings with companies last week based on “preparatory activity” that US intelligence collects in Russia, but she said the US government does not didn’t see a specific cyberattack approaching.
Neuberger told reporters that the United States has noticed an increase in malicious behavior while still seeing ways for bad actors to easily exploit critical targets.
Criminals linked to Russia have launched several cyberattacks affecting the United States in recent years, including the ransomware attack on Colonial Pipeline, which caused gas shortages on the East Coast in May, followed a few weeks later by an attack on meat processor JBS.
In one of the largest known attacks, hackers believed to be led by Russian intelligence compromised around 100 companies and a dozen government agencies with a software update. The breach had gone unnoticed for months and was first publicly reported in December 2020.
Russia has accused the United States of launching its own attacks. In 2018, the US Cyber Command allegedly blocked internet access to a St Petersburg-based organization accused of spreading disinformation.
Meanwhile, hackers supporting Russia and Ukraine have launched operations against each other in recent weeks, although so far Russia has yet to launch a massive attack. against Ukraine’s water, communication, electricity or gas infrastructure.
NPR’s Jenna McLaughlin contributed reporting.