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Biden Urges Putin in Call to Act Against Ransomware Attacks

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(Bloomberg) — President Joe Biden pressed Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday to act against hackers in his country that the U.S. has blamed for recent ransomware attacks against companies across the world, according to a White House statement.

“President Biden underscored the need for Russia to take action to disrupt ransomware groups operating in Russia and emphasized that he is committed to continued engagement on the broader threat posed by ransomware,” the statement said.

Biden stressed the U.S. “will take any necessary action to defend its people and its critical infrastructure in the face of this continuing challenge,” according to the statement. White House Spokeswoman Jen Psaki said the call lasted about an hour.

The U.S. president is facing pressure to respond following a spate of ransomware attacks believed to have originated in Russia, including an audacious breach last week that affected more than 1,000 businesses with victims in at least 17 countries and a cyberattack against the Republican National Committee.

A Russia-linked ransomware gang known as REvil is believed to be behind the attack that affected IT management software made by Kaseya Ltd. and Russian government hackers are thought to be responsible for the RNC attack, according to people familiar with the matter. The Biden administration has not officially attributed either attack to Russia.

The assaults have continued even after Biden set red lines for cyberattacks during a summit with Putin last month in Geneva. Biden said he gave Putin a list during the meeting of 16 critical sectors that, if attacked, could provoke U.S. retaliation.

Psaki told reporters that cyber officials from the U.S. and Russia are due to hold talks next week.

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