US prepares to take action against Russia after major cyberattack

SolarWinds Corp banner hangs at the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) on the IPO day of the company in New York, U.S., October 19, 2018.

Brendan McDermid | Reuters

The United States is preparing to take action against Russia after concluding it was likely involved in a major cyberattack that affected government systems and domestic companies, The New York Times reported Sunday. The move comes as the Biden administration begins to grapple with the revelation of another allegedly state-sponsored attack seeming to come from China.

The White House confirmed it will take “a mix of actions” in response to the cyberattack from Russia, although it did not provide specifics on when and how it would do so.

“As we have said, we will be responding to the Solar[W]inds hack with a mix of actions seen and unseen,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said in a statement to CNBC. “We will not publicly discuss certain aspects of our response.” 

The U.S. has been reeling from the attack discovered just a few months ago through IT firm SolarWinds. U.S. officials have said they believe Russians were behind the breach, which impacted several government agencies that use the technology.

The first of the U.S. actions could come in the next three weeks, unnamed officials told the Times, and kick off a series of actions in Russia meant to be noticed by President Vladimir Putin and his intelligence staff but not the public. The U.S. would also move to impose economic sanctions and President Joe Biden would sign an executive order to strengthen government networks, the officials said.

The news comes days after Microsoft disclosed a new major breach of its services linked to hackers in China. A source familiar with the U.S. government’s response told Reuters on Friday that more than 20,000 U.S. organizations were compromised through the attack. The U.S. investigation found town governments and credit unions were among those impacted, according to Reuters. Microsoft did not disclose the exact scope of the attacks but initially said they were “limited and targeted.”

Read the full story at The New York Times.

— CNBC’s Eamon Javers contributed to this report.

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