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US, Russian Officials To Meet On Cybersecurity Amid Latest Massive Hack

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(RFE/RL) — U.S. officials will host a meeting with their Russian counterparts next week to discuss cybersecurity issues after another massive attack by criminals believed to be based in Russia.

Meanwhile, U.S. President Joe Biden will convene a meeting of security officials on July 7 to discuss ransomeware attacks, White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki said during a press briefing.

Hundreds of U.S. companies have been impacted by a cyberattack carried out on July 2 on Florida-based technology firm Kaseya that experts are calling the largest ransomware case in history.

The perpetrators are demanding $70 million to unlock company data.

During the July 6 press conference, Psaki said companies should not pay ransomware, as it only encourages cybercriminals to continue their actions.

The Kaseya case is at least the third major cybersecurity attack in the past few months on U.S. companies by criminals believed to be residing in Russia. The other attacks on a gasoline pipeline operator and meat supplier caused significant disruption.

The cyberattack on Colonial Pipeline led to a shortage of gasoline in the U.S. southeast, resulting in a spike in fuel prices.

Cybersecurity was a major topic during Biden’s meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in June in Geneva.

Biden gave Putin a list of industries he said were off-limits to cyberattacks and said the Kremlin had the responsibility to go after cybercriminals inside Russia.

Many analysts say the Kremlin blesses or, at best, turns a blind eye to cyberattacks by Russian criminal groups as long as they don’t attack domestic companies.

Biden said on July 3 that if the Kaseya attack “is either with the knowledge of and/or a consequence of Russia then I told Putin we will respond.”

Psaki reiterated that message on July 6, saying the United States reserves “the right to take action, on our own” if the Russian government cannot or will not hold cybercriminals accountable.

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RFE/RL journalists report the news in 21 countries where a free press is banned by the government or not fully established.

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