President Joe Biden warned Monday that intelligence services are pointing to a growing Russian cyber threat and urged US companies to prepare defenses “immediately.”

“If they have not already done so, I urge our private sector partners to strengthen their cyber defenses immediately,” he said in a statement.

Biden cited developing intelligence that “the Russian government is exploring options for potential cyberattacks,” including in response to Western sanctions over Moscow’s launch of the war in Ukraine. “It’s part of the Russian playbook,” she said.

Biden said the US government “will continue to use every tool to deter, disrupt and, if necessary, respond to cyberattacks against critical infrastructure.”

In any case, he stressed that most of the critical infrastructure in the country is owned and operated by private entities, which cannot be forced to take specific cybersecurity measures.

“Owners and operators need to speed up efforts to shut down their digital doors,” he said.

“You have the power, the ability and the responsibility to strengthen the cybersecurity and resiliency of the critical services and technologies that Americans depend on. We need everyone to do their part,” Biden said.

“Most likely” tactic

Biden later told a meeting of American business leaders that Russia has “very sophisticated cyber capability” and that an attack was one of the “most likely” tactics President Vladimir Putin would use.

Referring to a summit last year in Geneva where he warned Putin against cyberattacks on critical US infrastructure, Biden said he had “a long conversation about if he uses it, what will be the consequence.”

“But the point is that he has the ability. He hasn’t used it yet,” he added.

US authorities have said that everything from fuel supply routes to water supplies are at risk of cyber attacks and have identified Russian hackers as one of the main threats.

Deputy Homeland Security Advisor for Cyber ​​and Emerging Technology Anne Neuberger told reporters that despite Biden’s warning, “there is no certainty that there is a cyber incident involving critical infrastructure.”

“Preparatory activity” has been detected, but there is no sign of a “specific” attack. Despite the government’s efforts to strengthen coordination and assistance in the area of ​​cybersecurity, “there is much more we should be doing than trusting that we close our digital doors,” she acknowledged.

In some areas, the gaps are “deeply concerning,” he said.

Neuberger reiterated earlier warnings from the White House that if Russia attacks critical infrastructure, the United States “will be prepared to respond.”

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