Biden urges US companies to beef up their cyber defenses in preparation for Russian attacks

In short: President Joe Biden is urging U.S. business leaders to immediately beef up the cyber defenses of their companies in preparation for possible attacks from Russia in response to sanctions hurting the country’s economy.

Biden wrote at the White House statement that “based on emerging intelligence,” his administration is repeating previous warnings that Russia may be conducting malicious cyberattacks against the United States.

“My administration will continue to use every tool to deter, disrupt and, if necessary, respond to cyber attacks on critical infrastructure. But the federal government cannot defend against this threat alone,” Biden wrote. “I call on our private sector partners to immediately beef up your cyber defenses.”

Biden repeated the warnings at the quarterly Washington Business Roundtable. “The scale of Russian cyberpower is quite significant and it is getting closer,” he said. “The fact is that he (Vladimir Putin) has an opportunity. He hasn’t used it yet, but it’s part of his script.”

The government issued instructions newsletter for American organizations that should help mitigate the effects of Russian cyber attacks. Some of the recommendations include implementing multi-factor authorization for systems, updating to the latest patches, conducting emergency drills, and establishing relationships with local FBI or CISA offices prior to any cyber incidents.

The Biden administration faced cyberattacks from Russia long before the invasion of Ukraine. Last July, POTUS told Putin to take action against ransomware groups operating in the country, even suggesting that the United States was ready to respond if cyber threats were not stopped. He later warned that such incidents could lead to “real gunfights”. But a US official says the threat “has taken on added significance in the eyes of the government” after Russia invaded the neighboring country.

The US government is currently investigation a cyberattack on U.S. telecommunications provider Viasat that took place on February 24, the day Russia invaded what it believed was state-sponsored Ukraine. The incident resulted in satellite modems providing Internet services to thousands of European customers, including many in Ukraine, to be switched off.

In other Russian news, a court in Moscow found Facebook and Instagram guilty of “extremist activity” after they temporarily allowed users in some countries to post threats of violence against Russian soldiers. WhatsApp, however, will remain unlocked.

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