President Biden said Wednesday he would "deliver" a message to Russian President Vladimir Putin about the latest ransomware attacks targeting American businesses, setting up a test of Biden's ability to balance his pledge to respond firmly to cyber breaches with his goal of developing a stable relationship with Russia. The administration faces few easy options for a ransomware threat that in recent months has emerged as a major national security challenge, with attacks from Russia-based gangs that have targeted vital infrastructure and extorted multimillion-dollar payments from victims, the AP reports. The White House says the damage from the latest attack—affecting as many as 1,500 businesses worldwide—appeared minimal, though cybersecurity experts said information remained incomplete.
The malicious intrusion exploited a powerful remote-management tool run by Miami-based software company Kaseya. It occurred weeks after Biden made clear to Putin that the US would not tolerate attacks. Biden met Wednesday with Vice President Kamala Harris and top national security aides to discuss the problem. As he departed the White House to travel to Illinois, Biden was opaque when asked what exactly he would convey to Putin. "I will deliver it to him," Biden told reporters. A White House National Security Council spokesperson said in a statement Wednesday that combatting ransomware remained a priority, but that the years-long threat "won’t just turn off as easy as pulling down a light switch." "No one thing is going to work alone and only together will we significantly impact the threat," the statement said.
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