Biden warns organizations to harden cyber defences against Russian cyber attacks

The US president said Russia could issue cyber attacks in retaliation against the sanctions it has received for invading Ukraine.
Written by Campbell Kwan, Contributor
Image: Getty Images

US President Joe Biden has warned local organizations to bolster their cyber defence efforts as Russia is considering conducting cyber attacks in retaliation to sanctions imposed against the country for its invasion into Ukraine.

"Russia could conduct malicious cyber activity against the United States, including as a response to the unprecedented economic costs we've imposed on Russia alongside our allies and partners. It's part of Russia's playbook," Biden said in a statement.

"My administration is reiterating those warnings based on evolving intelligence that the Russian government is exploring options for potential cyber attacks."

In light of this intelligence, Biden has called for the US private sector to act immediately to up their cyber defences.

"Most of America's critical infrastructure is owned and operated by the private sector and critical infrastructure owners and operators must accelerate efforts to lock their digital doors," Biden said.

The Department of Homeland Security's Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) has already reached out to critical infrastructure organizations about information and mitigation guidance to help protect their systems and networks.

As part of the warning, the US government issued a guidance factsheet for organizations to take certain cyber defence actions. Among those recommendations are for organizations to mandate the use of multi-factor authentication, deploy modern security tools on computers and devices, check with cybersecurity professionals to make sure systems are patched and protected against all known vulnerabilities, update passwords across networks so previously stolen credentials are useless to malicious actors, back up data and ensure offline backups are available, run exercises and drill emergency, encrypt data, educate employees about common forms of malicious activity, and engage proactively law enforcement authorities.

CISA and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) also warned satellite communications network providers last week to beef up cybersecurity efforts. The satellite warning came shortly after the two agencies, alongside European authorities, commenced investigations into a cyber attack against ViaSat's internet service for fixed broadband customers in Ukraine.

The Viasat outage started on February 28, coinciding with Russia's invasion of Ukraine. The same day German energy firm Enercon reported remote communications to 5,800 wind turbines was down due to a satellite outage.  

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