President Joe Biden warned that a major cyberattack on the United States could lead to an actual “shooting war,” in comments that mentioned Russia and China as threats to U.S. national security.
“I think it’s more than likely we’re going to end up, if we end up in a war — a real shooting war with a major power — it’s going to be as a consequence of a cyber breach of great consequence and it’s increasing exponentially, the capabilities,” Biden said in a speech to the U.S. intelligence community on July 27.
Biden noted a growing number of cyberattacks against government agencies and private industry that U.S. officials have linked to Russia and China.
Cybersecurity has moved to the top of the Biden administration’s agenda after a string of attacks during his first six months in office, including ransomware attacks.
At a Geneva summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin in June, Biden said the two leaders discussed keeping 16 types of critical infrastructure off-limits to cyberattacks, including the energy and water sectors.
Biden entered office having to deal with the fallout of the SolarWinds hack that affected U.S. government agencies and businesses, a sophisticated attack blamed on Russian government hackers.
Suspected Russia-based criminal groups have also been linked to high-profile ransomware attacks targeting Colonial Pipeline, meat-processing giant JBS, and another hitting technology firm Kaseya that impacted hundreds of businesses globally.
The United States and its Western allies earlier this month blamed China for a global hacking campaign that included a massive attack on the Microsoft software and accused Beijing of complicity with hackers in ransomware and other cyberattacks.
With reporting by AP and Reuters