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Biden warns cyber attacks could lead to “shooting war”

The comments come as the US continues to battle a wave of serious cyber attacks

President Joe Biden has warned that the US could end up in a “shooting war” with a major power as a result of a cyber attack

“I can’t guarantee this, and you’re as informed as I am, but I think it’s more likely we’re going to end up — well, if we end up in a war, a real shooting war with a major power, it’s going to be as a consequence of a cyber breach of great consequence,” Biden said at an event yesterday.

He was pointing out how cyber threats, including ransomware attacks, “increasingly are able to cause damage and disruption to the real world” and said they are increasing exponentially too.

Biden also mentioned Russian president Vladimir Putin, stating that as he has an economy that has nuclear weapons and oil wells “and nothing else”. He “knows he’s in real trouble, which makes him even more dangerous, in my view”, he said. 

As for China, Biden pointed out that president Xi Jinping is “deadly earnest about becoming the most powerful military force in the world, as well as the largest — the most prominent economy in the world by the mid-40s — the 2040s”.

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Furthermore, Biden said it was important to work with partners and allies to maintain the US’s technological edge by shoring up supply chains and ensuring that the rules that govern technologies support democracies, not autocracies.

The US has been hit by a number of cyber attacks recently including the Colonial Pipeline attack in May. Colonial was forced to suspend 5,500 miles of pipeline between Texas and New York after hackers breached its systems. DarkSide, the hacking group responsible for the attack, said their motives were purely financial and they did not want to create problems for the general public, and weren’t state-backed either.

Following this, in June the US government announced it would give out up to $10 million in rewards for tips leading authorities to malicious hackers working for foreign governments to target US infrastructure. The US State Department said it had set up a dark web (Tor-based) tips-reporting channel to protect the safety and security of potential sources.

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