Biden: U.S. 'prepared to respond' to Russian cyberattacks as invasion of Ukraine continues

President Joe Biden on Thursday said that the United States is ready to respond to cyberattacks from Russia, as the administration unveiled a new round of sanctions intended to punish the country for its invasion of Ukraine.

“If Russia pursues cyberattacks against our companies, our critical infrastructure, we are prepared to respond,” Biden said during an address from the White House East Room.

He added that the White House has been “working closely with the private sector to harden cyber defenses, sharpen our ability to respond to Russian cyberattacks as well.”

The remarks come as the administration has warned the public and private sectors in recent months to go “shields up” against possible Russian digital attacks that stem from Moscow’s assault on its former Soviet satellite state.

Last week the U.S. and the United Kingdom accused Russia’s military intelligence agency of carrying out distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks on the websites of Ukrainian defense agencies and banks that knocked them offline temporarily.

NBC News reported that Biden had been presented with an array of options for cyberattacks against Russia, including disrupting the country’s internet to targeting its railroads and electric power grid.

However, top White House officials strenuously pushed back against the report.

“This report on cyber options being presented to @POTUS is off base and does not reflect what is actually being discussed in any shape or form,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki wrote in a tweet.

Thursday was not the first time Biden has warned that Washington would respond in kind to cyberattacks from Moscow.

"For example, it's one thing to determine that if they continue to use cyber efforts, well, we can respond the same way, with cyber,” he said during remarks last month.

Martin Matishak

Martin Matishak is a senior cybersecurity reporter for The Record. He spent the last five years at Politico, where he covered Congress, the Pentagon and the U.S. intelligence community and was a driving force behind the publication's cybersecurity newsletter.

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