WASHINGTON (Reuters) – US President Joe Biden on Friday urged Russian President Vladimir Putin to take action against groups carrying out ransomware attacks from Russia, the White House said.
“President Biden underlined the need for Russia to take action to disrupt ransomware groups operating in Russia and stressed that he is committed to continuing engagement against the wider ransomware threat,” the White House said in a statement the call between the two heads of state and government.
White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki said Biden told Putin that even if actors were not run by the Russian government, “they still have a responsibility”.
Ransomware – a type of malicious software used by hackers to take data hostage for payment – has become an increasingly powerful scourge for businesses around the world. Cyber criminals have paralyzed thousands of American organizations and triggered a series of increasingly serious crises.
In May, cyber criminals shut down the important fuel transport company Colonial Pipeline, triggering gasoline shortages, price spikes and panic buying on the east coast. The following month, another group hit meat packer JBS and briefly disrupted its food supply chain. Last week, hackers sparked a mass ransomware outbreak that targeted Florida-based IT company Kaseya.
Many of the gangs carrying out the ransomware attacks are alleged by American officials and cybersecurity researchers to operate from Russia with the knowledge, if not consent, of the local government.
(Reporting by Susan Heavey and Raphael Satter; writing by Tim Ahmann; editing by Howard Goller)