Former Obama defense official Evelyn Farkas told CNBC that she doesn’t think the Russian government will stop state-sponsored cyberattacks against the U.S., despite President Joe Biden’s meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Geneva on Wednesday.
“There are Russian state-sponsored cyberattacks … hacking and weaponizing information, and getting involved in our elections in 2016, and then 2020 using disinformation — those things the Russian state can stop very quickly,” said the Former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Russia, Ukraine and Eurasia.
“I don’t expect them to do that, unless, they lash out at us and we provide a proportional reaction,” Farkas said.
Biden threatened a response to cyberattacks if Russia doesn’t take a harder line to stop them.
“Certain critical infrastructures should be off-limits to attack, period, by cyber or any other means,” Biden said during a press conference after his meeting with Putin. “I gave them a list, 16 specific entities defined as critical infrastructure under U.S. policy, from the energy sector to water systems.”
Putin told reporters that the Colonial Pipeline attack and others have “nothing to do with Russian authorities.” U.S. officials, however, say the idea that Putin is unaware of these attacks isn’t credible, given the tight grip he maintains over Russia’s intelligence services and its murkier, off-the-books network of contractors.
Farkas, in an interview with “The News with Shepard Smith,” highlighted Ukraine as a relative roadmap. The country recently arrested members of a major ransomware gang that targeted American universities.
Russia should be dealing with cybercriminals within its border in much the same way, she said.
“The Ukrainians clamped down on some cybercriminals, some ransomware folks in Ukraine, and that is exactly what the Russian government should be doing and they’re not doing,” Farkas said. “It’s very telling that the Ukrainian government decided to stick it to Moscow by showing how it’s supposed to be done to the international community.”