US President Joe Biden told Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday that certain critical infrastructure should be “banned” from cyberattacks. But analysts said his efforts were unlikely to be more successful than previous attempts to establish safe zones online.
Not sure what area he wants to go into, Biden talked about 16 types of infrastructure. A clear reference to the 16 sectors classified as critical by the US Department of Homeland Security, including telecommunications, health, nutrition and energy.
Biden Statement on Cyberattacks
“We have agreed to ask experts from both sides to work on concrete findings about what lies beyond the borders,” Biden said after a naval summit with Putin in Geneva. “We’re going to find out if we have a cybersecurity deal that starts to bring order.”
A senior administration official said the proposal focused on “destructive” hacking. As opposed to traditional digital spying operations carried out by intelligence agencies around the world.
Putin’s reaction to the idea was not immediately clear. In a separate news conference, he said the two heads of state and government had agreed to start “consultations” on cybersecurity. But did not directly refer to Biden’s proposal.
The United States first felt what this meant last month when cybercriminals seeking solutions briefly shut down a major US pipeline, cut gasoline supplies and sparked panic buying on the east coast.
Cyberattacks on Ukraine
Previous cyberattacks on Ukrainian power grids and Saudi petrochemical plants have also raised concerns.
In all of these cases, the hackers involved accuse the US of working directly for the Russian government or on Russian territory.
Russian authorities have repeatedly denied the applicability or tolerance of cyberattacks, and Putin made no concessions on Wednesday.
“We have to get rid of all the accusations, sit down at the expert level. We start working in the interests of the United States and Russia,” Putin told reporters.
Then he made an allegory and said that Russian authorities had tracking malicious digital activity from the United States.
“We will definitely see where the attack is coming from. We see this work coordinated by US cyberspace,” Putin said.
Experts are skeptical that Biden’s proposal will take seriously by Putin.
The fate of such a deal between former US President Barack Obama and China’s head of state Xi Jinping is not encouraging, said Stefan Soessanto.
Stefan Soessanto is a researcher at Security studies Center at Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich.
The 2015 deal theoretically prohibits the theft of commercially lucrative intellectual property. But many cyber experts who track Chinese hacker attacks say Beijing ultimately abandoned the deal.
“Will Biden be better than Obama/Xi? I don’t think he will,” said Soesanto.