Biden raises ransomware topic during Putin phone call

Following a series of impactful ransomware attacks that hit companies like Colonial Pipeline, JBS Foods America, and Kaseya, causing widespread havoc across the US, President Joe Biden raised the topic of ransomware attacks carried out by gangs of Russian criminals during a phone call today with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

"The President [...] underscored the need for President Putin to take action to disrupt these ransomware groups," Jen Psaki, White House press secretary, said today during the daily White House press briefing.

"REvil operates in Russia and other countries around the world, and we do not have new information suggesting the Russian government directed these attacks [...] but we also believe they have a responsability to take action."

"The President made clear the United States will take any necessary action to defend its people and critical infrastructure," Psaki said.

Second time Biden discusses ransomware with Putin

Today's phone call marks the second time the two presidents have touched on the subject.

The first time was last month, during a joint summit in Geneva, Switzerland, where the two presidents met face to face for the first time since Biden was elected US president last year.

At the time, Biden told Putin that the US would reserve the right to take action if Russia continues to tolerate and allow ransomware gangs to operate from within its borders with impunity, as long as the gangs don't attack Russian businesses.

President Biden gave his counterpart a list of 16 US critical infrastructure sectors against which ransomware attacks carried out by these Russia-harbored gangs would not be tolerated and which should be considered "off limits."

Biden has been under pressure from US political pundits and rivals to take action against Russian ransomware gangs, especially as some of their attacks have become more brazen and have led to widespread issues with fuel and meat supply across parts of the US.

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Catalin Cimpanu

Catalin Cimpanu

is a cybersecurity reporter who previously worked at ZDNet and Bleeping Computer, where he became a well-known name in the industry for his constant scoops on new vulnerabilities, cyberattacks, and law enforcement actions against hackers.