President-elect Joe Biden’s first big test is already clear, a month before he takes office: what to do about to a vast cyberattack almost surely waged by Russia.
This was no run-of-the-mill hack. A key starting point seems to be “backdoor” malware that infected a flawed product from software firm SolarWinds used by thousands of customers, including US government agencies, most Fortune 500 companies and the widely used cybersecurity firm FireEye.
The penetration was global and months-long, with the extent of damage yet unknown; it may not even be over. They hit the Pentagon, US intelligence agencies, nuclear labs, the Commerce, Justice, Treasury and Homeland Security departments and several utilities. FireEye cybersecurity tools were likely stolen, giving the hackers a future leg up.
Experts say the level of sophistication points to Russia; both Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Attorney General Bill Barr believe Moscow is behind it. Lawmakers on the both sides of the aisle are rightly outraged, with some even calling this an “act of war.”
But President Trump is downplaying the attack, even suggesting China may be the perp. So it’s up to Biden to respond.
The new commander-in-chief will find a punishment severe enough to deter future attacks by, as he says, “imposing substantial costs on those responsible,” including “in coordination with our allies and partners,”
Fact is, it’s time for a new “reset” with Russia. The entire civilized world needs to treat Vladimir Putin’s regime as the rogue nation it is, waging wars to grab land on its periphery, attempting assassinations at home and abroad, cheating on a mass scale wherever it can. Europe can start by shutting down Russia’s Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline, now set to go online within the year.
The costs may be high, but continuing to pretend Putin has a scrap of honor will cost far more in the end.
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