President Biden on Monday said there’s “no evidence” that the Russian government is behind the Colonial Pipeline ransomware hack, but that it has a responsibility to respond because the suspected perpetrators are Russian.
Biden noted in his first remarks on the devastating oil pipeline hack that he plans to meet next month with Russian President Vladimir Putin in his first overseas trip.
“I’m have a conver — I’m going to be meeting with President Putin and so far there is no evidence based on, from our intelligence people, that Russia is involved. Although there is evidence that the actors’ ransomware is in Russia. They have some responsibility to deal with this,” Biden told reporters at the White House.
The ransomware attack forced the shutdown over the weekend of the major US pipeline, which carries gasoline, diesel and jet fuel from the Gulf Coast northward along the East Coast to New York City.
The US government believes that a Russia-based criminal enterprise known as DarkSide is responsible.
White House officials told reporters at a press briefing before Biden’s remarks that they don’t know if the Colonial Pipeline company has paid the hackers in a bid to end the attack.
Biden said that he was monitoring the US response to the hack.
“This is something that my administration, our administration, have been tracking extremely carefully, and I have been perfectly personally briefed every day,” Biden said.
“The Department of Energy is working directly with Colonial to get the pipelines back online and operated in a full capacity as quickly and safely as possible. The FBI also is engaged to assess and address this attack.”
Biden said “the agencies across the government have acted quickly to mitigate any impact on our fuel supply, and over the weekend, at my direction, the Department of Transportation issued emergency order to loosen restrictions on truck drivers in order to allow more fuel to be transported by tanker.”
The president said “we’re prepared to take additional steps, depending on how quickly the company is able to bring this pipeline back to full operational capacity.”
The FBI “has determined Colonial’s network was infected by ransomware, and it’s a criminal act, obviously,” he said.
Biden added, “We have efforts underway with the FBI and DOJ — the Department of Justice — to disrupt them, and prosecute ransomware criminals. And my administration will be pursuing a global effort [against] ransomware attacks by transnational criminals who often use global money laundering networks to carry them out.”
The attack will lead to greater cybersecurity protection efforts, he said.
“To jumpstart greater private-sector investment in cybersecurity, we launched a new public-private initiative in April. It begins with a 100-day sprint to improve cybersecurity in the electric sector. And we’ll follow that with similar initiatives in natural gas pipelines, water and other sectors,” Biden said.