Biden Administration Demands Russian Action against Cybercrime
By Aaron Brest
During June’s Russo-American summit in Geneva, President Biden gave Russia’s Vladimir Putin a list of 16 categories of potential targets for cybercrime that were off-limits for both Moscow and criminals based in Russia.
Cybercrime isn’t new to anyone, and since the advent of the internet has been prolific in corporate warfare, state espionage, and theft. However, cybercrime from Russia, in particular, has often been in the spotlight of the American people, inciting debate about the legitimacy of the 2016 presidential elections and more recently incapacitating critical infrastructure.
Just this May, the US’s Colonial Pipeline was crippled by a ransomware attack from the cybercrime group DarkSide. Being the largest pipeline in the United States, and spanning over 8850 kilometres in total length, the pipeline’s state of inoperation resulted in fuel shortages in the states of Alabama, Georgia, Florida, and North/South Carolina, and impacted operations in certain east-coast airports which the pipeline directly supplied.
A more recent instance of cybercrime affecting the United States was “REvil’s” attack on HX5, an arms manufacturer employed by all branches of the United States Military and NASA. Whilst the extent of the attack was considered “not of vital consequence” by pundits, cyberattacks are not isolated nor uncommon.
REvil, shortened for “Ransomware Evil” has been conducting ransomware cyberattacks as far back as May 2020, with notable targets being Donald Trump, Stefani Germanotta, and the Apple Corporation.
Irina Borogan, a Senior Fellow at the Center for European Policy Analysis claims that the cybercriminal gang REvil, have not only been tolerated but indirectly supported by the Kremlin. She adds that “Russian security services are quite good at fighting these hackers”, and further claims that with the magnitude and type of attack used, that there is no way the group has managed to not have been caught yet.
In a bizarre sort of way, these cybercriminal organisations serve at Moscow’s pleasure. By not targeting Soviet-bloc nations, they don’t pose an immediate threat, and officials turn a blind eye.
Allegations such as these where Moscow may not be sanctioning the attacks, but quietly supporting them via inaction mean that without violating Russia’s sovereignty, there is no way to detain, try, and punish the people behind these attacks.
The Biden Administration and Washington as a whole can only hope that Russia entertains their wishes.