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U.S. Will 'Take Any Necessary Action' After Latest Massive Ransomware Attack, Biden Tells Putin

The White House said U.S. President Joe Biden (left) and his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, spoke for about an hour by phone on July 9. (composite file photo)

U.S. President Joe Biden has urged Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin in a phone call to "take action" against ransomware groups operating in Russia, the White House said.

Ransomware attacks on the United States and other countries have increased sharply over the past year and have included a high-profile attack that shut down a major fuel pipeline in the eastern United States.

Biden told Putin during the call on July 9 that the United States will take "any necessary action" to defend Americans and critical infrastructure threatened by cyberattacks, the White House said.

The call, which the White House said lasted about an hour, took place days after Florida-based technology firm Kaseya’s remote-management software tool was targeted by a ransomware attack that impacted hundreds of U.S. businesses and up to 1,500 businesses globally.

Information about the extent of the attack, which cybersecurity experts have said is the biggest ransomware attack on record, remains incomplete.

The Russia-based cybercriminal group REvil claimed credit for the attack and demanded $70 million worth of bitcoin as ransom to decrypt software and allow owners to access data.

Biden "spoke with President Putin about the ongoing ransomware attacks by criminals based in Russia that have impacted the United States and other countries around the world," the White House said in a 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," it said.

"President Biden reiterated that the United States will take any necessary action to defend its people and its critical infrastructure in the face of this continuing challenge."

White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki said Washington does not "have additional or new information suggesting that the Russian government directed these attacks," but that the Kremlin has "responsibility to take action."

The conversation between the two leaders came less than a month after they held their first face to face meeting in Geneva, when Biden first warned against continuing cyberattacks on U.S. businesses and infrastructure emanating from Russia.

With reporting by AFP, AP, and Reuters
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