Putin Warns Against US ‘Retaliation’ Over Alleged SolarWinds Hack

A spokesman for Russian President Vladimir Putin warned the United States should it retaliate for the alleged SolarWinds hack.

Dmitry Peskov, Putin’s spokesman told the TASS news agency on Tuesday that the “alarming information” would constitute a “pure international cybercrime” and is condemned under international law.

“The Russian state has never had anything to do with cybercrimes and cyberterrorism it is being accused of,” Peskov stated.

A report from the New York Times, citing unnamed Biden administration officials, claimed the United States will carry out a cyberattack against Moscow in the coming weeks. The report will come along with new economic sanctions, the officials said.

Peskov, in reference to the NY Times’ article, stated that “these reports are alarming” and said the cyber attack would be “nothing but international cybercrime.”

In a rare joint statement in January, the FBI, National Security Administration (NSA), the Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence said the SolarWinds hack was “likely Russian in origin.”

The departments said it’s “responsible for most or all of the recently discovered, ongoing cyber compromises of both government and non-governmental networks.” They added: “At this time, we believe this was, and continues to be, an intelligence-gathering effort. We are taking all necessary steps to understand the full scope of this campaign and respond accordingly.”

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov in Bishkek on March 28, 2019. (Maxim Shemetov/AFP via Getty Images)

Secretary of State Antony Blinken and FBI Director Christopher Wray in recent days have suggested harsh punishments would be meted out against Russia.

However, former SolarWinds CEO Brad Smith in late February told a House hearing that there was no evidence the Pentagon was actually impacted by the hack. “There is no indication, to my knowledge, that the DoD was attacked,” he said.

In recent days, cybersecurity experts blamed the Chinese regime for a hack that exposed tens of thousands of servers running Microsoft’s Exchange email program to possible security breaches.

They said the Chinese regime also unleashed an indiscriminate, automated second wave of hacking that opened the way for ransomware and other cyberattacks. The second wave, which began Feb. 26, is highly uncharacteristic of Beijing’s elite cyber spies and far exceeds the norms of espionage, said Kevin Mandia of FireEye.

“You never want to see a modern nation like China that has an offense capability—that they usually control with discipline—suddenly hit potentially a hundred thousand systems,” Mandia said Tuesday in an interview with The Associated Press.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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