Lawmakers Want Biden To Be More Aggressive Towards Russian Cybercriminals

"P20210513AS-0633-2" (United States government work) by The White House

Lawmakers from both parties want Biden to present a more aggressive stance towards Russian-based criminal groups.

Democrat and Republican lawmakers would like Biden to deliver a more stern message when he comes face to face with Russian President Vladimir Putin this week. Lawmakers from both political parties are also pressing Biden to give Putin an ultimatum to end ransomware attacks.

Bipartisan support for a stronger national defense

There is a growing bipartisan accord that the classic U.S. strategy of establishing its defense is not enough.

This perspective was more emphasized after the country experienced cyberattacks that disrupted key parts of U.S. interests. First, came a ransomware attacks against a major gasoline pipeline; secondly, an attack against a large meatpacking conglomerate. 

Now, lawmakers are saying it is time for the country to start being more stern with our message. This particularly applies towards criminal networks that are operating from Russia. 

Senate Homeland Security Chair Gary Peters (D-Mich.) called Kremlin’s laissez-faire approach toward the criminal groups working in their own backyard “unacceptable”.

However, the question is whether Putin can be pressured to rein in these Russian criminals. 

“Joe Biden” (CC BY-SA 2.0) by Gage Skidmore

Last month, Biden issued a light warning against Kremlin; this came a month after U.S. officials traced the cyberattacks to a ransomware group the DarkSide, based in Russia. 

In his warning, Biden stated that Russia has “some responsibility.” Biden also added that he will discuss the issues of cybersecurity with Putin. However, Biden did not elaborate any further. 

On Friday, a senior Biden official told reporters that people can expect the U.S. president to raise cyberattacks directly and make expectations clear. The official then confirmed people can expect Russia to address the threat that originates within their territory.

Lawmakers wants Biden to be more stern and clear 

However, lawmakers want Biden to be more firm with his words. They want Biden to make it more clear that the United States, together with its NATO allies, is willing to take matters into our hands and make these cybercriminals liable. They said that this type of approach might be sufficient enough to raise the alarm in Russia.

Meanwhile, the Intelligence Committee’s vice chair Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) alleged that there is an interplay between cybercriminals and the government.

U.S. National Security and Law Enforcement officials believe there is an interplay between the two because Russian intelligence officers would sometimes perform “freelance” work in illegal digital activities, with permission of the states.

FBI Director Christopher Wray added that the ties between these two “can run deep.” This includes even ransomware groups like DarkSide, who claim to have “complete independence” from the government.

Wray added that the he cannot discuss in an open hearing the degree of connection between the Russian government and those cybercriminals. However, he did say the DarkSide actors are individuals who coincidentally target “English-speaking victims.”