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Biden promises 'overwhelming focus' on hack recovery

Biden pledged an "overwhelming focus" on recovery from the SolarWinds hack, adding that the price tag for mitigation could be in the billions of dollars, and said that the perpetrators would have to answer for the breach.

December 22, 2020 2 minute read

by Justin Katz

President-elect Joe Biden, in prepared remarks and a subsequent press conference in Delaware today, called out the Trump administration for failing to prioritize cybersecurity in general, and for "downplaying the seriousness" of the ongoing breach that has hit multiple federal agencies.

Biden pledged an "overwhelming focus" on recovery from the SolarWinds hack, adding that the price tag for mitigation could be in the billions of dollars, and said that the perpetrators would have to answer for the breach.

Asked if the attack is an act of war, Biden said it is a "grave" threat to the United States and the public "can be assured that we will respond [to the attack] and probably respond in kind," Biden added.

"The Trump administration failed to prioritize cybersecurity," Biden said. "It did that by eliminating or downgrading cyber coordinators in both the White House and at the State Department, the firing of director of Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, to President Trump's irrational downplaying of the seriousness of this [recent] attack. Enough is enough. In an age when so much of our lives are conducted online cyberattacks must be treated as a serious threat by our leadership at the highest levels."

As the government continues to discover new consequences of hackers breaching agency networks, analysts and lawmakers have begun talking about the importance of not only fixing the backdoor vulnerability in SolarWinds, but also removing any persistent threats hackers may have delivered.

Vimesh Patel, a technology adviser at World Wide Technology and formerly an official at the National Counter Terrorism Center, said it is unlikely federal agencies will ever have certainty that remnants of the hacking campaign have been removed

"I'm not sure the federal government will be able to know definitively. It's just the nature of cybersecurity and advanced threats coming from other nations against us," he told FCW.

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