WASHINGTON, D.C. (NBC) – The White House is urging American businesses to bolster their defenses against ransomware and to consider the increasing cyberattacks an existential threat.
The world’s largest meat processing company and a major oil pipeline are the latest high-profile targets, and cautionary tales to other potential victims of criminal hackers.
Thursday, the White House sent a clear message to business leaders: take this threat more seriously.
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said, “We can’t do it alone. Business leaders have a responsibility to strengthen their cyber defenses to protect the American public and our economy.”
In an urgent memo, the Biden administration told private companies to view ransomware attacks as a threat to their core business rather than an IT issue.
Recent targets include the country’s biggest transit system—New York’s MTA—and a ferry connecting Cape Cod to Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts.
Schools, hospitals and city governments have also been hit.
The world’s largest meat supplier, JBS, is coming gradually back online after a suspected Russian cyberattack.
JBS employee Esias Orozco said, “It’s almost like your house getting broken into. You know, there’s a sense of security that you lose.”
The FBI is also blaming Russian hackers for temporarily taking out a critical east coast oil pipeline, leaving thousands of gas stations dry.
The White House says President Biden will address cyberattacks when he meets with Russia’s President Putin this month while not ruling out retaliation.
It’s a new generation of crime launched online with devastating effects in the real world.
The White House is also urging private companies not to pay ransoms, saying that encourages more cyberattacks.