President Biden and his team have warned the Putin administration of 16 critical infrastructure entities that are off-limits for threat actors operating from Russia.
The news came as the two leaders sat down in Geneva for a summit which Biden said was designed to ensure a “stable and predictable” relationship between countries following the turmoil of the Trump years.
After an audacious attack on Colonial Pipeline, which disrupted fuel supplies on the East Coast for days, Biden has been under increasing pressure to confront Putin over the cybercrime groups apparently operating with impunity from Russia.
The two spent “a great deal of time” talking about cybersecurity, said Biden in a post-meeting press conference.
“I talked about the proposition that certain critical infrastructure should be off limits to attack — period — by cyber or any other means. I gave them a list … of 16 specific entities; 16 defined as critical infrastructure under US policy, from the energy sector to our water systems,” he added.
“Of course, the principle is one thing. It has to be backed up by practice. Responsible countries need to take action against criminals who conduct ransomware activities on their territory.”
The two countries will now sit down to work on a deeper agreement on cybersecurity, designed to articulate “what’s off-limits.”
The US hammered out a similar agreement with China back in 2015 when Barack Obama warned Xi Jinping not to allow state-backed spies to target US companies in “economic cybercrime” attacks.
However, that deal soon fell apart as it became clear Beijing had no intention of dropping its plans.
Putin reportedly appeared similarly unapologetic at the Geneva meeting, claiming the Colonial Pipeline attack had nothing to do with the Kremlin. His US sources told him most cyber-attacks originate from the US.
Adam Flatley, former NSA director of operations and now director of threat intelligence at [redacted], said the summit went as expected.
“Both sides went in and stated their positions to set the playing field for the next few years. Russia denied everything, which is totally standard. Biden stated our opposing positions and didn’t cave to any of Putin’s initial demands, most of which were normal,” he explained.
“It looks like we’re back in a more normal world of international relations, which is a good thing. So the real outcome here seems to be that both sides stated their opening positions and will go back home to start pushing their different agendas, and we’ll have to see who has the will and resources to succeed.”