The White House defended President Joe Biden’s response to China for sponsoring cybercriminals infiltrating global systems, despite a decision to hold off on sanctions four and a half months after a major hack was discovered.
Multilateral partners from the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Japan, and NATO condemned the Chinese government’s actions on Monday, a message meant to show allies united against China’s persistent destabilizing activities in cyberspace, administration officials said.
Asked why Biden appeared to hold off on a full-throated condemnation of China when questioned by the media earlier Monday, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said, “That was not the intention he was trying to project.”
The coordinated effort “was under [Biden’s] direction,” Psaki said. “He continues to feel it’s important to lead from a position of strength in close coordination with our partners and allies around the world, and he takes the malicious cyberactivity, whether it’s from Russia or China, whomever the actors may be, quite seriously.”
She said that economic or other considerations won’t stop retaliatory measures if these are deemed necessary.
“We are not moving fast, we are not allowing any economic circumstance or considerations to prevent us from taking actions were warranted, and also, we reserve the option to take additional actions as well,” she added.
US AND ALLIES BLAME CHINA’S SPY AGENCY FOR ‘REALLY EYE-OPENING’ CYBERATTACKS
Psaki said the Biden administration hopes to continue working with partners to challenge cybercriminals.
“Obviously, we can’t determine steps and consequences on their behalf, but that is certainly our objective and how we approach our strategy,” Psaki said. “From the beginning, [we] have felt that working in partnership, working in coordination, and working together is a stronger way to approach malicious activity, cyberactivity, and other areas of concern.”
Biden demurred when asked by reporters at the White House why sanctions had not been imposed, as they were during a similar crackdown on Russian hackers earlier this year.
“They’re still determining exactly what happened,” Biden told reporters while taking questions after delivering remarks on the economy. “The investigation is not finished.”
The president was asked to detail the differences between the two nation-state-linked campaigns.
“That’d take a longer explanation,” Biden retorted. “My understanding is that the Chinese government, not unlike the Russian government, is not doing this themselves but are protecting those who are doing it and maybe even accommodating them being able to do it. That may be the difference.”
Some private sector experts have wondered about the time it has taken for the United States to level blame on China. Links to the country were reported soon after the Exchange hack was disclosed by Microsoft in March.
The Justice Department on Monday unsealed indictments on three hackers from China’s Ministry of State Security intelligence agency and a contract hacker over a separate cyberespionage campaign.
U.S. officials and allies on Monday blamed China’s government for recruiting a network of cybercriminals responsible for a web of attacks, including into a Microsoft Exchange email servers four and a half months ago.
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A senior administration official said on Sunday that the U.S. had “high confidence” that Chinese hackers broke into the Microsoft servers “with the Ministry of State Security’s knowledge.”
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Tags: News, White House, Biden Administration, Joe Biden, China, Jen Psaki, Cybersecurity
Original Author: Katherine Doyle
Original Location: White House defends Biden’s ‘coordinated’ response to Chinese government-sponsored hackers