White House press secretary Jen Psaki was asked questions on Friday about the recent ransomware attacks on US businesses. An attack the Colonial Pipeline was followed shortly by an attack on meat processor JBS.
The White House has been pressed for answers by reporters seeking to understand what roll the Biden administration intends to play in working with American companies, dealing with Russia as the foreign nation that houses these hackers, hackers in general, and the national security implications of those things.
Psaki was asked about the amount in the budget "dedicated bolstering to cyber security," which is about $1.3 billion. She was asked if "more resources need to be dedicated to this," or if it would be left to the private sector.
"We know that the ransomware threat is urgent, complex, and has been increasing over the last several years. It feels new to us over the last several weeks, but it has been increasing rapidly around the world over the last several years," Psaki said.
"One of the reasons that we have initiated a rapid review internally is because we recognize that threat. And we will assess based on that review what additional needs there are both from the federal government, in coordination with Congress, or from the private sector.
"And that review is focused on the disruption of ransomware infrastructure and actors working closely with the private sector, building an international coalition... expanding crypto currency analysis, which we know is a factor given so many of these ransomware attacks, if ransom is paid, which we don't recommend and don't advise from the FBI, but it's often done through cryptocurrency channels, and reviewing our own policies," she said.
Later in the same press conference, she reiterated the concern over cryptocurrencies. When asked if the president viewed ransomware attacks as "a national" security threat, Psaki said that the president "views them as a rising national security concern."
"We need to continue to keep our focus, keep our assets, focus on energy and brainpower on what we can do to address it. That's why we launched our rapid review to take a look at these four areas of focus, including our own approach, the US government: How we work with the private sector, including cryptocurrency, and also including what role we can have on the global stage."
Psaki said that this was an area where the administration would be "spending time in the coming months."
Ransoms by DarkSide, which targeted the Colonial Pipeline, have been requested in the form of cryptocurrency.