Biden has been chastised for advising businesses that they are responsible for defending themselves against Russian cyberattacks.
President Biden’s statement that the private sector is responsible for its own protection against Russian cyberattacks has been met with criticism from those who argue that battling a hostile nation is the federal government’s responsibility.
Mr. Biden restated the government’s concerns that Russia might start cyberattacks against American businesses this week, citing “changing intelligence” about the Russian government’s objectives.
On Monday evening, the president followed up with a tweet in which he explained his position on corporations’ responsibility to protect against Russia.
Mr. Biden tweeted, “The federal government is doing its part to prepare for potential Russian cyberattacks.” “We are prepared to assist private sector enterprises with tools and skills, but the measures you take will be your decision and duty.”
Many Americans interpreted the president’s speech to suggest that the government is relinquishing its cybersecurity leadership.
“The provision for national defense is chief among the restricted authorities the people have delegated to the federal government,” CatholicVote, a right-leaning advocacy group, tweeted. “Being on your own is not an option.”
On Tuesday, the Biden administration’s top domestic cyber agency attempted to clear up some of the ambiguity. Jen Easterly, the director of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, used Twitter to clarify the roles of government and industry in cybersecurity.
Ms. Easterly tweeted, “Cyber defense of the nation is a joint responsibility.” As the nation’s cyber defense agency, @CISAgov will continue to work closely with our federal and industry partners to monitor the threat environment 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and quickly disseminate actionable intelligence and mitigation suggestions, the agency said.
“We’re in this together & we’re (really!) here to help,” Ms. Easterly said, urging people to report cyber attacks to her organization.
In the Biden administration, CISA has taken the lead in forging new collaborations with the commercial sector to combat hackers and attacks. The administration established the Joint Cyber Defense Collaborative, which brings together federal agencies and commercial companies to combat cyber threats.
Mr. Biden’s Monday pronouncements on the threat of Russian cyberattacks and the government’s responsibilities contrast sharply with his past statements about defending American critical infrastructure and making it inaccessible to Russian cyberattackers.
Mr. Biden warned Russian President Vladimir Putin in June 2021 that several industry sectors, including healthcare, energy, and financial services, were off limits to hackers.
After Mr. Biden’s ultimatum to Mr. Putin, the avalanche of ransomware attacks and intrusions against businesses continued unabated, and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has stoked fears that more damage to America is on the way.
Former Michigan Republican Rep. Mike Rogers, who chaired the House Intelligence Committee from 2011 to 2015, stated the United States should take the lead on cybersecurity topics such as public-private information sharing and cyber insurance rather than making “empty claims.”
Mr. Rogers said in a statement, “We’re leaving the private sector to defend itself against cyber threats from Russia and China.”
“Think about it: we’re asking banks, electricity corporations, healthcare providers, manufacturing companies, and others to protect themselves from bomber strikes.”
Mr. Biden’s remarks have also alarmed federal and state officials. Maryland Governor Larry Hogan stated on Tuesday that his state is concerned about Russian cyber threats and anticipates Mr. Putin seeking retaliation against the US for enforcing penalties.
Mr. Hogan, a Republican, told CNBC, “I think we’re doing everything anyone can think of to keep us secure.” “I believe corporations are doing it, as are local, state, and federal governments, as well as all of our security agencies, but I’m not confident they won’t be able to get through.”