Ransomware Attacks Saddle Biden Administration with National Security Crisis

The Biden administration recently confronted the implications of a sudden national security challenge as cyber hackers targeted the staples of American life, namely, water, food, gas, transport, and hospitals. 

The FBI director has compared these assaults to 9/11, given that they are targeting the country’s infrastructure that is extremely vulnerable after pandemic shutdowns. These cybersecurity threats have left Biden, who became President amidst multiple crises, with dilemmas about how to respond to the situation without resorting to a full-on international cyberwar. 

Many of the attacks seem to be the work of criminal gangs in Russia, adding to the pressure on President Joe Biden’s high-stakes summit with President Putin next week, during his first foreign trip.

Jennifer Granholm, the Energy Secretary, said “very malign actions” had sights on the U.S., after attacks on a pipeline, a Florida water system, government agencies, healthcare institutions, and even the meat industry. 

“Even as we speak, there are thousands of attacks on all aspects of the energy sector and the private sector generally … it’s happening all the time,” Granholm told CNN. Alarmingly, the former governor added that the international hackers have the power to shut down the power network in the U.S., and advised firms not to pay the ransoms that the hackers are demanding. 

Maine Sen. Angus King warned that American is now reaping the consequences of not responding boldly in the past to attacks by Russia, China, and North Korea. “We have been a cheap date. And you can’t defend yourself simply by bobbing and weaving and patching. The adversary has to understand they will pay a price, there will be a cost for attacking the United States or for attacking our critical infrastructure,” he said.