US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has revealed that President Joe Biden’s upcoming meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin is about the recent devastating cyberattacks on US soil which Washington has compared the to the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.
Blinken said in an interview on Sunday that Biden will tell Putin “directly and clearly” that Washington will take actions against Moscow if the ransomware attacks against American companies continue.
"I can’t tell you whether I'm optimistic or not about the results," Blinken told Allen. "I don't think we're going to know after one meeting, but we'll have some indications ... We're prepared either way."
Biden and Putin are scheduled to meet in Geneva, Switzerland on June 16, following a string of cyberattacks that have targeted systems operated by both the US federal government and private companies. Washington claims Russian hackers are behind the crippling cyberattacks
Last week, a ransomware attack on JBS USA, the largest supplier of beef in the nation, forced all its American facilities to shut down for a day.
Last month, Colonial Pipeline, which supplies around 45 percent of the East Coast's fuel supply, shut down its operations after a ransomware attack which Washington claimed was carried out by a Russian-based group. The company chose to pay the hackers the equivalent of $4.4 million in Bitcoin to receive keys to decrypt their systems.
And, the recent hack of information technology company SolarWinds allegedly gave access to thousands of companies and government offices that used its products.
The Biden administration has accused Russia of harboring hackers who it said were behind the recent attacks.
FBI Director Christopher Wray on Friday compared the ransomware hacks to the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in which about 3,000 Americans lost their lives.
“There are a lot of parallels, there’s a lot of importance, and a lot of focus by us on disruption and prevention,” Wray told The Wall Street Journal in an article. “There’s a shared responsibility, not just across government agencies but across the private sector and even the average American.”
Wray said that the FBI is investigating about 100 types of ransomware attacks, claiming that Russia is behind many of them.
Last week the US Justice Department said it will give investigations into ransomware attacks the same priority as those of terrorist attacks.
“It's a specialized process to ensure we track all ransomware cases regardless of where it may be referred in this country, so you can make the connections between actors and work your way up to disrupt the whole chain,” said John Carlin, the acting deputy attorney general at the Justice Department.