President Joe Biden said Thursday that they don’t believe the Russian government was involved in the Colonial Pipeline cyberattack.
Biden spoke about the pipeline, which began resuming operations Wednesday night, and urged Americans to remain calm amid fuel shortages. The president said that while the Russian government isn’t believed to be involved, the administration does think the hackers responsible are living in Russia.
“We don’t believe the Russian government was involved in this attack, but we do have strong reason to believe that the criminals who did the attack are living in Russia. That’s where it came from,” the president said.
Biden said he expects the situation regarding a lack of gas across several states “to improve by the weekend” and early next week. He also said gas stations should not “try to take advantage of consumers during this time” and announced that he’s asked federal agencies to be ready in case they need to provide additional assistance regarding price gouging.
The president added that the administration has been speaking with Moscow and that it has plans to disrupt the ransomware network.
“We have been in direct communications with Moscow about the imperative for responsible countries to take decisive action against these ransomware networks,” Biden said. “We’re also gonna pursue a measure to disrupt their ability to operate, and our Justice Department has launched a new task force dedicated to prosecuting ransom to the full extend of the law. And finally, let me say that this event is has provided an urgent reminder of why we need to harden our infrastructure and make it more resilient against all threats, natural and manmade.”
Biden signed an executive order following the Colonial Pipeline and other attacks dedicated to improving the federal government’s cybersecurity defenses.
Colonial Pipeline Co. reportedly paid the hackers nearly $5 million in ransom just hours after the attack, Bloomberg News reported Thursday. This move comes despite recommendations from cybersecurity experts against paying such ransoms, in part because it can contribute to a rise in future attacks.