White House says Biden spoke with Putin about latest round of cyber attacks

‘obamacare’ Victory Forces Gop To Regroup; Tropical System To Hit Gulf; Drive By Shootings Near Phoenix
Saul Loeb

President Joe Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin, arrive to meet at the 'Villa la Grange', Wednesday, June 16, 2021, in Geneva, Switzerland. (Saul Loeb/Pool via AP)

President Joe Biden urged Russian President Vladimir Putin to take action to disrupt criminal ransomware groups in Russia on a call Friday morning — their first publicized discussion since a summit in Geneva last month.

According to the White House, “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.”

“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,” the White House statement added.

The two leaders also discussed the recent renewal of cross-border humanitarian assistance to Syria in the UN Security Council, according to the White House.

Biden confronted Putin about cyber attacks by Russia-based actors during the Geneva summit. And earlier this week, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said the White House has conveyed to Russian officials that there is a responsibility to respond after recent cyber attacks and that the US stands ready to “take action” if necessary.

The White House indicated earlier this week that top national security officials have been in contact with a “high level” of Russian officials regarding the ransomware attack on software vendor Kaseya.

Earlier, the White House said the Intelligence Community had not yet attributed the attack, but noted the group believed to be responsible, REvil, operates out of Russia.

The Republican National Committee said on Wednesday that its networks were not breached and its data not accessed after an IT provider used by the RNC said it’s “conducting a thorough review of a few instances in which outside actors have attempted to gain access.”

The contractor, Synnex, declined to say when the attempts happened and to what extent the RNC was targeted. The RNC says that upon hearing that Synnex was breached, it “immediately blocked all access from Synnex accounts.”

The New York Times reported that the hackers behind the Synnex attack were from Russia’s foreign intelligence service, the SVR, citing investigators in the case. If true, it’s the same group of hackers who carried out the massive SolarWinds hack and the attack on the Democratic National Committee in 2015.

CNN’s Alex Marquardt, Zachary Cohen and Kevin Liptak contributed to this report.