Attorney General Merrick Garland on Thursday warned that the U.S. is on high alert for the possibility of Russia’s war against Ukraine spilling into cyberspace.
“No one looking at Ukraine right now can doubt that the Russian government poses an enormous threat to the United States,” Mr. Garland said in testimony before the House Appropriations Committee. “We are bracing for a potential cyber attack from Russia.”
“We’ve had numerous criminal cyber attacks which we’ve associated with criminal actors operating in Russia. No one operates within Russia without some support for looking away from the government there,” he continued.
Mr. Garland added that the U.S. faces “an enormously significant” intelligence threat from Russia.
Cyberattacks in Ukraine days before the Russian invasion have been linked to Moscow.
The attorney general is the latest member of the Biden administration to raise the alarm about ransomware attacks. In March, the administration warned U.S. businesses and local government governments that they should be vigilant against cyber attacks.
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That warning came days after multiple U.S. agencies issued a similar warning to major U.S. banks.
President Biden in March urged U.S. companies to accelerate efforts to protect themselves against the threat of a cyberattack, adding the federal government is willing to help them fend off a move by Russia.
The White House called on companies to develop multiple steps of authentication, encrypt sensitive data, shore up vulnerabilities and make contingency plans.
Several cyberattacks carried out against U.S. companies and political groups have been tied to Russian agents or cybercriminals based in the country.
Last year’s shutdown of the Colonial oil pipeline, attack on JBS Foods, a meat processor, and an attack on the operator of ferries to Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts, have all been linked to hackers based in Russia.
The U.S. has also accused Russian government hackers of stealing the emails of Hillary Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta during the 2016 presidential election.
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