Biden should demand action from Putin, and he should take steps to make sure hackers who target the US, and the governments who facilitate their work or turn a blind eye to it, pay a price. Anything else will result in ever-escalating assaults on America’s ability to function.
And yet, the hacks and the ransomware attacks — in which cybercriminals demand money in exchange for releasing a computer network — are serving a useful purpose for the United States. They are warning the country about a growing danger, and helpfully pointing out precisely where the vulnerabilities lie.
The future of conflict is here. Whether a full-on war or low-grade clashes, cyberattacks are sure to play a major role in any significant battles for the foreseeable future.
The Biden administration has caught on to that inescapable fact and seems ready to tackle it.
The epidemic of ransomware crimes and other hacks is not just an American problem; it’s one of the outgrowths of globalization, and one where there’s room for solutions.
At the G-7 meeting next week, Biden should start the process of bringing US allies together to punish those who shelter and abet cyberhackers, and to share information and resources to combat it.
It’s no coincidence that even when the hackers are private gangs, they still hail from countries that treat the US as a foe or a rival. It’s a sign that these ransomware attacks foreshadow more dangerous government-led operations.
Cyberattacks are the new terrorism. They have the potential to become just as disruptive and just as dangerous. Addressing the matter with Putin is imperative, but it’s barely the beginning.