US president Joe Biden had some tough words over recent state-sponsored and criminal ransomware attacks, suggesting that if the US were to end up in a "real shooting war" it would be because of a major cyberattack.
Biden's comments follow this month's REvil ransomware attack on the managed service provider (MSP) customers of US software vendor Kaseya that affected 60 MSPs and around 1,500 of their customers.
Cyber attacks have become central to talks between Biden and Russia's president Vladimir Putin in recent weeks, following the Kremlin-backed supply chain attack on SolarWinds that impacted federal agencies and US cybersecurity firms, as well as criminal ransomware attacks on fuel distribution network Colonial Pipeline and meat packer JBS.
Addressing the US intelligence community, he said the road to war with a major power would likely be as a consequence of a major future cyber attack on the US.
"You know, we've seen how cyber threats, including ransomware attacks, increasingly are able to cause damage and disruption to the real world," said Biden.
"I can't guarantee this, and you're as informed as I am, but I think it's more likely we're going to end up — well, if we end up in a war, a real shooting war with a major power, it's going to be as a consequence of a cyber breach of great consequence. And it's increasing exponentially — the capabilities."
He also belittled the state of Russia's economy under Putin, who "has a real problem" that makes the Russian president dangerous.
"He's sitting on top of an economy that has nuclear weapons and oil wells and nothing else. Nothing else. Their economy is — what? — the eighth smallest in the world now — largest in the world? He knows he's in real trouble, which makes him even more dangerous, in my view."
Biden added that Russia's alleged disinformation campaign targeting the US 2022 elections as a "pure violation of our sovereignty." Biden also warned Putin that critical infrastructure should be "off limits" in G7 talks at Geneva last month.