Biden gave Putin a list of ‘critical infrastructure’ that should be ‘off limits’ from cyber attacks

The United States has fallen victim to cyber attacks on supply chains, allegedly at the hands of Russian hackers, and President Joe Biden finally chose to address the problem with President Vladimir Putin during their Wednesday meeting.

The Trump administration took a peace through strength approach, while Biden decided to give Putin a list of “critical infrastructure” that is “off limits” to attackers. Biden elaborated on the list in his press conference following the meeting.

I talked about the proposition that certain critical infrastructure should be off-limits to attack, period, by cyber or any other means. I gave them a list, and I don’t have it in front of me, if I am not mistaken, of 16 entities — 16 defined as critical infrastructure, from the energy sector to our water systems,” Biden said.

The action follows the recent cyberattacks suffered by the United States at the hands of cyber criminals attacking critical infrastructure, impacting supply chains and driving up prices.

Biden emphasized the importance for the U.S. and Russia to “take action against criminals that conduct ransomware activities on their territory.”

The meeting ended, according to Biden, with a mutual understanding between the two leaders about what infrastructure is off-limits and communication regarding specific cases that are linked to other countries. 

Biden employed an ‘only time will tell’ attitude about whether the arrangement will “bring some order.”

He reported saying to Putin, “I looked at him. I said, ‘How would you feel if ransomware took on the pipelines from your oil fields?’ Putin replied stoically, ‘It would matter.’ 

It’s unclear how effective the conversation was. During Putin’s press conference he admitted that he and Biden agreed to “begin consultations” on cybersecurity. Putin said we need to “throw out all kinds of insinuations,” a nod to the alleged ransomware attacks by Russian actors. 

He went on to throw out an insinuation of his own, accusing the United States of cyberattacks saying, “We certainly see where the attacks are coming from. We see that this work is coordinated from U.S. cyberspace.”

There is no shortage of skeptics who question if Putin will remain true to his word. 

“There’s no indication at all that he actually went along with it,” Keir Giles, a Russia expert at the Chatham House think tank in London told Reuters.

Giles says any progress will require “an outbreak of honesty” from the Kremlin and “There’s no indication – at least from Putin’s public comments so far – that that outbreak has begun.”

The discussion followed two major attacks on infrastructure impacting the U.S. JBS, the world’s largest meat producer located in Brazil, was forced to shutter all of its U.S.-based plants to respond to a ransomware attack just weeks after the Colonial pipeline attack left the East Coast reeling with gas shortages.

Social media users took to Twitter to criticize Biden’s move:

 

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