Via conference call

4:33 p.m. EST

MODERATOR: Hey everyone. Thank you for joining us on a Friday closer to the end of the day. As noted in the invitation, this is a background call on cyber security. I’ll let our speaker elaborate on that.

Before I turn it over to the speaker, let me briefly explain the ground rules.

So this briefing is in the background. She is to be attributed to a “high administrative official”. And it’s locked until the call is completed.

For your awareness only, but not for reporting, is the spokesman for this alert [senior administration official].

You know, we’re a little behind on time today, so we only have time for a few questions. But if you don’t get your question, you know how to reach me and I’ll be happy to get back to you as soon as possible.

I leave that to you.

SENIOR ADMINISTRATOR: Thank you. And good day everyone. Like [moderator] said, thank you for joining us on a Friday afternoon.

So of course we welcome the fact that the Kremlin is taking law enforcement action to deal with ransomware emanating from its borders.

The President believes in diplomacy. President Biden and President Putin established a White House-Kremlin expert group on ransomware last June. As we have said and the Russians have confirmed, we exchanged information with the Russians through this channel, including information about attacks on critical American infrastructure.

We understand that one of the people arrested today was responsible for the attack
against Colonial Pipeline last spring.

We are committed to bringing those who carry out ransomware attacks against Americans to justice, including those who carried out these attacks on JBS, Colonial Pipeline and Kaseya.

I would also like to be very clear: in our opinion, this has nothing to do with what is happening with Russia and Ukraine. I don’t speak for the Kremlin’s motives, but we are satisfied with these first actions.

We have also made it very clear that if Russia continues to invade Ukraine, we will impose heavy costs on Russia, in coordination with our allies and partners.

As the President said, cybercriminals are resilient and we will continue to take steps to disrupt and deter them while engaging diplomatically, as we have done with Russia, allies and partners around the world.

So, over to you with that. We look forward to your questions.

Q Thank you. Thanks for doing it I want to ask you about Russia and Ukraine. And I had a little trouble listening, but I think you said there would be a cost if you did anything related to Ukraine.

Do you have an attribution? I know that the Ukrainians have hinted that today’s hacking is related to Russian intelligence agencies. Does this go beyond what the Pentagon has previously said and what the White House has previously said about attributions about today or other hacking of Ukraine in the last few days by Russia?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATOR: Hello, Andrea. can you hear me now I’m sorry. I have a bad cold so I know I’m a little hard to hear.

Q Oh, I’m so sorry. Feel better.

SENIOR ADMINISTRATOR: Okay. Okay good. But I’m glad you can hear me. OK.

Therefore we currently have no assignment. We are in contact with Ukrainians and have offered our support as Ukraine investigates the impact and recovers from the incident. While we continue to assess the impact on Ukrainians, so far it appears to be limited as several sites come back online.

But I want to point out that we — you know, we and our allies and partners are concerned about this cyber attack, and the President has been informed. But that’s the current status.

Q Hello. Thank you for agreeing to do this on a Friday night. I was curious to know — you said you welcome reports that the Kremlin is taking action. Apparently, there was evidence that this operation was being carried out under direct orders from the White House. Could you talk a little about whether that is actually true – whether this is something that was done specifically at your insistence, with information that the White House actually provided? Thanks very much.

SENIOR ADMINISTRATOR: Thank you, Eric. As you know, last June, President Biden and President Putin established the White House-Kremlin Expert Group on Ransomware and we met within that framework and discussed the need for Russia to take action against ransomware criminals created by their operate from borders . We have also shared information about individuals operating out of Russia who have conducted disruptive attacks on critical US infrastructure.

And as I noted, we understand that one of the people who was arrested today was actually the person responsible for the attack on Colonial Pipeline last spring.

So this has – we attribute today’s announcement to that – really to the President’s commitment to diplomacy and the channel he has established and the work that is underway to share information and discuss the need for Russia to act.

That being said, each country certainly conducts its law enforcement operations under its own legal system. And Russia’s announcement today was clearly something that, you know, that was, will pursue its own law enforcement efforts.

These are our first – these are very important steps as they represent the Kremlin taking action against criminals operating from within its borders. And they represent what we are looking for in terms of further activity like this in the future.

Q Hello. Thanks for the call. Do you expect anything to happen to those people who have been arrested? As you know, there is no extradition treaty and Russia has a long history of not actually prosecuting these types of people. So what happens now? What is the White House hoping to do now to ensure these people don’t go back to ransomware?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATOR: We expect that Russia will announce arrests and that Russia will take legal action within its own system against these criminals for the crimes that they created – that they committed. So that is our expectation.

And indeed, as you say, it is our expectation that they will be brought to justice not only for their past crimes but also for preventing future crimes.

MODERATOR: Thank you. Thanks again to everyone for participating. I know that was a really short call. If we haven’t answered your question, please email or give me a call and I’ll make sure we get back to you. And then have a nice weekend. Thanks for your time. goodbye

4:41 p.m. EST

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