President Joe Biden has asked the governors of all 50 US states and the mayor of the District of Columbia to bolster the cybersecurity of state computer systems and critical infrastructure in the face of potential Russian hacking threats.
“[T]here are things that only you as governor can do to secure your state’s computer systems, your critical infrastructure, your citizens, and through those efforts, our Nation,” Biden wrote in a March 18 letter to the governors and mayor reviewed by CNN.
Biden reiterated in the letter that “we must prepare for any contingency, including cyber attacks on our homeland” from Russia.
Politico first reported on the letter.
Some more context: This is the latest in a series of statements from Biden administration officials for critical infrastructure firms to be on high alert for any potential Russian cyber activity.
The FBI advised five US energy firms last week that Russian internet addresses were scanning their networks in possible preparation for a hack. There are no known compromises from that activity. Scanning, which involves checking computer networks for devices and vulnerabilities, happens on the internet all the time.
Biden urged the governors and mayor, if they haven’t already, to meet with their leadership teams to discuss how they will protect critical infrastructure and state resources in the event of a cyberattack.
“Has your chief information security officer done all that he or she can do to lock down your state’s systems and put your cybersecurity teams on high alert?” Biden asked.
Russian hacking groups have in 2015 and 2016 used cyberattacks to cut off power in parts of Ukraine. That has’t happened in the US. The electric sector and other critical industries have invested heavily in defenses and preparatory work.