FBI Director Chris Wray compared the national security implications of the ransomware attacks to the terrorist attacks of September 11th, saying both affect every American.
‘There are a lot of parallels, there’s a lot of importance, and a lot of focus by us on disruption and prevention,’ Wray told The Wall Street Journal in an interview. ‘There’s a shared responsibility, not just across government agencies but across the private sector and even the average American.’
Wray’s comments come after a Reuters report the Justice Department is elevating investigations of ransomware attacks to a similar priority as terrorism.
There have been a series of high profile hits: On Tuesday there was on against JBS USA, a unit of the world’s largest meat processing company; last month Colonial Pipeline paid the nearly $5 million ransom after hackers shut down its gas pipeline; and last year’s Solar Winds hack that is believed to have infected multiple agencies of the US government.
As a result of the attacks both gas prices and meat prices have spiked.
Wray said that served as a wake up call for Americans.
‘Now realizing it can affect them when they’re buying gas at the pump or buying a hamburger – I think there’s a growing awareness now of just how much we’re all in this fight together,’ he said.
FBI Director Chris Wray compared the national security implications of the ransomware attacks to the terrorist attacks of September 11th
Wray told The Wall Street Journal the after affects of both the September 11th terrorist attack and the ransomware attacks have affected every day Americans
The FBI director also revealed his agency was investigating roughly 100 different variants of ransomware as attacks as both the US government and private companies struggle to deal with the cyber attacks.
‘The scale of this problem is one that I think the country has to come to terms with,’ he said.
Wray singled out Russia as harboring those who use ransomware and called on that government to do something about it.
‘Time and time again, a huge portion of those traced back to actors in Russia. And so, if the Russian government wants to show that it’s serious about this issue, there’s a lot of room for them to demonstrate some real progress that we’re not seeing right now,’ he said.
President Joe Biden has vowed to bring up the ransomware attacks when he meets with Russian President Vladimir Putin later this month.
There have been a series of high profile cyber attacks including on against JBS USA, a unit of the world’s largest meat processing company
Cyber attacks on JBS and the Colonial Pipeline caused a spike in meat and gas prices, which FBI Director Chris Wray said served as a wakeup call to Americans
Biden has taken a tough stance against Putin ahead of their meeting. And, on Wednesday, he did not rule out retaliation against the Russians for a series of cyber attacks on American companies.
‘We’re looking closely at that issue,’ Biden said when asked if he would retaliate for the latest ransomware attack.
But he dismissed concerns he was being tested by his Russian counterpart.
‘No,’ he said when asked if he thought Putin was testing him.
The two leaders will meet in Geneva, Switzerland on June 16 for their first sit down amid rising tensions between the two nations.
White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki said Wednesday the cyber attacks on US companies, believed to be done by hackers in Russia but not in conjunction with that government, will be on the summit agenda.
‘President Biden certainly thinks that President Putin and the Russian government has a role to play in stopping and preventing these attacks hence it will be a topic of discussion when they meet in two weeks,’ she said.
The agenda is filling up rapidly. Also likely to come up: Russian interference in US elections; Moscow’s aggressive posture toward the Ukraine and the treatment of dissent Alexei Navalny.
President Joe Biden did not rule out retaliation against Russian President Vladimir Putin for a series of cyber attacks on American companies
‘We’re not taking anything off the table in terms of how we may respond,’ Psaki said without getting into specifics.
‘I will say that this attack is a reminder about the importance to private sector entities of hardening, their cybersecurity, and ensuring they take the necessary steps to prepare for this threat, which we’ve seen rising even over the last few week,’ she said.