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White House warns Russia's exploring cyberattacks on critical U.S. businesses

Deputy National Security Advisor for Cyber and Emerging Technology Anne Neuberger speaks during a White House press briefing on cybersecurity Monday. Photo by Leigh Vogel/UPI 
1 of 2 | Deputy National Security Advisor for Cyber and Emerging Technology Anne Neuberger speaks during a White House press briefing on cybersecurity Monday. Photo by Leigh Vogel/UPI  | License Photo

March 21 (UPI) -- The Biden administration warned Monday that Russia is mulling plans to launch cyberattacks against U.S. businesses and urged those operating critical infrastructure to beef up their defenses.

In a statement issued by the White House, President Joe Biden said that based on "evolving intelligence," U.S. security officials have determined that "the Russian government is exploring options for potential cyberattacks."

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The president said the possible attacks are "part of Russia's playbook" and could come in response to "the unprecedented economic costs we've imposed on Russia alongside our allies and partners" following Moscow's invasion of Ukraine.

"This is a critical moment to accelerate our work to improve domestic cybersecurity and bolster our national resilience," Biden said, urging private businesses to "harden your cyber defenses immediately" in accordance with guidelines developed by the Department of Homeland Security's Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency.

"We need everyone to do their part to meet one of the defining threats of our time -- your vigilance and urgency today can prevent or mitigate attacks tomorrow," he concluded.

Anne Neuberger, the deputy national security adviser for cyber and emerging technology told reporters at a White House briefing the Russian government "is exploring options for potential cyberattacks on critical infrastructure in the United States."

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Although there is no "certainty" such an attack will happen, the situation warrants a "call to action" for the private owners of critical infrastructure, she said, adding that more than 100 U.S. businesses were briefed last week on the evolving cyberthreats and urged to harden their defenses.

The warning came after U.S. Department of Health and Human Services this month issued an analysis warning healthcare officials that Russian attacks launched against Ukrainian institutions have the potential to spill over into America's healthcare systems, potentially endangering patients' lives

The federal agency raised the alarm about two pieces of Russian malware that could cut off doctors and nurses from needed patient data, cause hospitals to delay scheduled procedures and divert critically ill people to other facilities.

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