‘Russia remains undeterred,’ US lawmakers call for stepping up US cyber defenses

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Rep. Adam Schiff, left, speaks with Sen. Mark Warner at an event on Capitol Hill Jan. 10, 2019.

US House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff has called for stepping up US pressure on Russia after it was accused of hacking the American government agencies and other organizations.

The California Democrat made the comments in the wake of a Thursday announcement by Microsoft, blaming a hacking group they named “Nobelium” for attacks against US Agency for International Development (USAID).

The group was also said to be behind the SolarWinds (SWI.N) cyber attack identified late last year.

“If Moscow is responsible, this brazen act of utilizing emails associated with the U.S. government demonstrates that Russia remains undeterred despite sanctions following the SolarWinds attack,” Schiff said. “Those sanctions gave the administration flexibility to tighten the economic screws further if necessary — it now appears necessary.”

The hack of information technology company SolarWinds allegedly gave access to thousands of companies and government offices that used its products.

“We have to step up our cyber defenses, and we must make clear to Russia – and any other adversaries – that they will face consequences for this and any other malicious cyber activity,” Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Mark Warner said in a statement.

Nobelium has reportedly gained access to an email marketing account used by the USAID to target other organizations with malicious phishing emails.

"This week we observed cyberattacks by the threat actor Nobelium targeting government agencies, think tanks, consultants, and non-governmental organizations", Microsoft said in a blog post. "This wave of attacks targeted approximately 3,000 email accounts at more than 150 different organizations.”

Washington frequently accuses Moscow of being behind hacking attacks as well as meddling with US elections, allegations that Russia has dismissed.

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