US President Joe Biden (L) and Russia’s President Vladimir Putin meet for talks at the Villa La Grange.

Mikhail Metzel | TASS | Getty Images

WASHINGTON – President Joe Biden pressed Russian President Vladimir Putin to take action to stem recent ransomware attacks from Russian-based groups in a phone call Friday, the White House said.

“President 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,” said a White House readout of the call.

“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 call came just days after a massive new cyberattack by the group REvil, believed to be based in Russia.

The hacker gang is demanding $70 million in cryptocurrency to unlock data from the attack, which spread to hundreds of small and medium-sized businesses across a dozen countries.

Biden met with Putin in person last month in Geneva, where he warned the Russian president to crack down on cyberattacks originating in Russia.

There, Biden said he presented Putin with a list of critical infrastructure in the United States that, were it to be attacked by Russian based cyber criminals, would constitute a serious national security threat to the U.S.

The implication was that the Biden administration would take retaliatory action against Russia, and not simply cyber criminals, if these critical systems, like water, electricity and air travel, were to be attacked.

The White House has so far declined to detail what retaliatory action the United States is taking or has taken against cyber criminals in several recent attacks, citing the need for such information to remain classified.

During the call Friday, Putin and Biden also commended each other for the joint work their teams undertook following the meeting in Geneva, the White House said.

That work led to an important UN Security Council vote Friday to resume the delivery of humanitarian aid into Syria. 

This is a developing story, please check back for updates.



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