President-elect Joe Biden has launched his most vigorous attack yet against the Trump administration, and President Trump directly, during a Tuesday press conference.
Addressing questions regarding cybersecurity following the recently discovered massive hack attack targeting U.S. government agencies, Biden stated that the Trump administration had “failed to prioritize cybersecurity.” The cyberattack happened on Trump’s watch, Biden said, “when he wasn’t watching.”
While confirming that there is still much that he didn’t know about the “massive cybersecurity breach,” Biden claimed that the Defense Department “won’t even brief us on many things.” He also said that what is known is that the cyberattack “constitutes a grave risk to our national security.”
However, it was Biden’s comments aimed directly at President Trump, and his increasingly histrionic tweeting, that really stood out.
Not least as this was his strongest chiding of the lame-duck president so far. Apparently referring to Trump’s December 19 tweet diverting blame from Russia to China, and suggesting election voting machines could have been hit by the hack attack, Biden called this an “irrational downplaying” of the seriousness of the incident.
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Trump “still has the responsibility as a President to defend American interests” while he remains in office, Biden said, continuing, “rest assured that even if he does not take it seriously, I will.”
The attribution of such cyberattacks is often fraught with complexity and complication, especially when inferring nation-state control over a criminal hacking group. Such is the case here, where the blame would appear to sit with an advanced hacking group labelled APT29, often referred to as Cozy Bear.
However, this advanced persistent threat (APT) operator is without doubt Russian in origin, and the United Kingdom’s National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) assess the cyber espionage group as “almost certainly” being part of the Russian intelligence services.
U.S. Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, has publicly blamed Russia for being behind the attacks. “We can say pretty clearly that it was the Russians that engaged in this activity,” Pompeo said.