The last presidential administration went hard after China – applying sanction after sanction, but with minimal success. They also seemed to give Russia a free pass.
Many of the very public recent hacks are being attributed to Russia, including SolarWinds and Kaseya.
When Biden met with Putin in Helsinki last month, the two agreed to form a committee to address the problem.
Since it is popular understanding that Putin is directing the attacks – or at least approving them (and probably taking a cut) – it is not clear that a committee will do much.
Still, that is the step that this administration is willing to take at this time.
However, there are some hints that this administration might be willing to do more.
When Biden was specifically asked if it made sense to attack back, he responded, somewhat cryptically, with a simple YES.
When Biden was asked what he expected Putin to do, he declined to say. He did say “we’ll see”.
We need to both defend and offend.
U.S. businesses need to harden their systems to attack and redesign them to mitigate the losses. While Russia is certainly a player in the attack business, it is not the only one and even if a miracle happened and Putin shut down his revenue stream, that will only reduce the number of attacks. AND, I don’t anticipate a miracle.
At the same time the U.S. government needs to make hackers face consequences. Having the DoJ indict people that will never be arrested, like the last administration did, is not terribly effective. Every now and then we catch a stupid one who crosses into friendly territory, but all that does is teach the smart ones not to do that.
This is a hard problem, but continuing to do what we have done in the past is not going to work. Credit: The White House