FBI Official: Russia Is Not Cooperating with U.S. Against Ransomware Threat

Russian President Vladimir Putin

Russian President Vladimir Putin Mikhail Voskresensky/Sputnik, Kremlin/Pool Photo via AP

Administration officials promised consequences after a meeting between presidents Joe Biden and Vladimir Putin.

Russia is not helping to police suspected ransomware actors operating within its jurisdiction, contrary to projections a top White House administration official made in association with the pledge of a notorious criminal gang, according to a leading official. 

“Based on what we've seen, I would say there is no indication that the Russian government has taken action to crack down on ransomware actors that are operating in the permissive environment that they've created there,” said FBI Deputy Director Paul Abbate. “We've asked for help and cooperation with those who we know are in Russia, who we have indictments against and we've seen a lack.”

Abbate was part of a panel of senior intelligence officials, including National Security Agency Director Paul Nakasone, who spoke at the annual Intelligence and National Security Summit Tuesday.

All along the chain of command and across various military branches, government officials participating in the two-day conference were united in describing a shift in focus from on-the-ground engagement in Afghanistan to a more technology-based competition with peer adversaries like China and Russia.   

In June, President Joe Biden met with President Vladimir Putin to put critical infrastructure targets out of bounds and promised to impose consequences if Russia didn’t take action to help stem the attacks against U.S. entities. In July, officials said they made official requests for cooperation, which Russia disputes.

Then in August, after a group believed to be associated with the Colonial Pipeline hack promised to more carefully select the entities it attacks, Deputy National Security Advisor for Cyber and Emerging Technology Anne Neuberger said it seemed to indicate a positive commitment on Russia’s behalf following the presidential meeting.

Asked how the U.S. is planning to impose consequences, Nakasone said there is a spectrum of options that agencies, including the offense-focused U.S. Cyber Command, which he also leads, will share with the commander in chief.

“The president determines a way forward, we will provide a number of different options that are available and that's across all of our agencies and certainly U.S. Cyber Command,” he said.