President Biden said Wednesday that he and Russian President Vladimir Putin spent a considerable amount of time discussing cybersecurity during their summit in Geneva, but part of the president’s remarks about that meeting are raising eyebrows.
Following two major attacks on Colonial Pipeline and meat producer JBS, Biden said “certain critical infrastructure should be off limits to attack—period—by cyber or any other means.”
He explained that he gave the Russian president a list of critical infrastructure entities to avoid.
“I gave them a list, if I’m not mistaken — I don’t have it in front of me — 16 specific entities; 16 defined as critical infrastructure under U.S. policy, from the energy sector to our water systems,” Biden said.
According to the Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency, the 16 entities include: commercial facilities, chemical, communications, critical manufacturing, dams, energy, defense industrial base, emergency services, financial, food and agriculture, government facilities, healthcare and public health, information technology, nuclear reactors, materials, and waste, transportation systems, and water and wastewater systems.
“Of course, the principle is one thing,” Biden added. “It has to be backed up by practice. Responsible countries need to take action against criminals who conduct ransomware activities on their territory.
“So, we agreed to task experts in both our — both our countries to work on specific understandings about what’s off limits,” Biden continued, “and to follow up on specific cases that originate in other countries — either of our countries.”
Biden says he gave Putin a list of 16 things that are off limits for cyber attacks on critical infrastructure. pic.twitter.com/ijyQX4LU2l
— Jennifer Jacobs (@JenniferJJacobs) June 16, 2021
Later in the press conference he told reporters that he asked Putin how he’d feel if a ransomware attack “took on the pipelines from your oil fields” and the Russian president “said it would matter,” Biden recalled.
While Biden has previously noted that the U.S. does “not believe the Russian government was involved,” in the Colonial Pipeline ransomware attack, they do think the criminals responsible reside in the country. Russia has denied involvement. The attack on JBS was also done by another Russia-linked group, the FBI said.
Social media users wondered why Biden would give Putin a list at all, when everything should be considered off limits.
Democrats love giving the green light to criminals. Biden giving Putin a list of just 16 elements that “should be off limits from cyberattacks” is a betrayal of America. He’s basically saying “I’ll let you get away with attacking the rest but please don’t attack these.” Weakness! https://t.co/F7chSUoJLA
— Robby Starbuck (@robbystarbuck) June 18, 2021
I’m honestly not trying to be churlish, but isn’t everything off-limits? Why is this constructed like this, instead of “don’t ever attack us in any way?” Is there a good reason? https://t.co/HFAULQIHfV
— Charles C. W. Cooke (@charlescwcooke) June 16, 2021
So, he basically gave Putin a to do list.
— Kevin Bullock (@KevBullock) June 16, 2021
This is really strange to me. If you were planning a cyber attack, and someone gave you a list of the most damaging things you could hit, wouldn’t that become your list of top things to destroy?
— cindy. Ⓥ (@cinwick) June 16, 2021