Ted Cruz criticizes Biden officials over why China hasn’t been sanctioned for a host of cyber-attacks
A panel of top cybersecurity officials was briefly speechless during a congressional hearing on Tuesday when Senator Ted Cruz asked why China had not been sanctioned for a brutal cyberattack on Microsoft Exchange email server software and other attacks.
Officials from the Department of Justice, the Infrastructure Security Agency and the FBI testified at a Judiciary Committee hearing titled “America Under Siege: Preventing and Responding to Ransomware Attacks.”
Much of the conversation revolved around Russia, which the US says is home to at least those who have carried out spectacular ransomware attacks. But Cruz, a Republican from Texas, urged officials to blame China, which was charged by a Biden government official with a “pattern of irresponsible behavior in cyberspace,” and blames the Microsoft hack.
“Let me ask someone on the panel,” Cruz asked, posing the question to one of the three witnesses. “Do you have an answer as to why the government has not sanctioned China for repeated cyber-attacks against the United States over and over again?”
What followed was a period of silence. Cruz then made his own comment. “Well, I guess that’s a question for the administration to answer,” he said. “And showing weakness to China and weakness to Russia only invites more aggression and more cyberattacks attacking our country.”
sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) asked officials of the Biden government during a hearing Tuesday why China had not been sanctioned for cyber hacks
He asked one of the witnesses, Richard Downing of the DOJ, whether it made sense for President Biden to give Russian President Vladimir Putin a list of critical infrastructure that should be inaccessible to ransomware attacks. He asked if it had the potential to encourage future attacks by telling Putin that “only certain parts of our infrastructure are off limits.”
Downing, the deputy assistant attorney general for the Criminal Division, said the matter was beyond his jurisdiction but said the DOJ was pursuing cases.
The other two officials who failed to respond to Cruz’s resignation request at the end of his speaking time were Bryan Vorndran, deputy director of the FBI’s cyber department, and Eric Goldstein, a top official at CISA.
Cruz said hackers ‘affiliated’ to the Chinese government attacked tens of thousands of computers this year, spread across tens of thousands of organizations. “China has repeatedly used ransomware and cyber attacks to harm America,” he said.
“The Biden administration has not imposed any sanctions on China,” he said furiously.
On Tuesday, a hearing focused on hacking from China and Russia. Pictured is Chinese President Xi Jinping
Last week, the Ministry of Justice announced that charges against four Chinese nationals it accused of collaborating with China’s Ministry of State Security to attack computer systems, schools and government weapons. But the government has not announced any sanctions — a tool the government has used to deter hacking from Russia.
Cruz, a 2016 presidential candidate who became an ally to Donald Trump in the Senate and could run again in 2024, accused the Biden administration of responding to threats of “extreme weakness.”
In a speech to US intelligence on Tuesday, President Joe Biden said he named Russian President Vladimir Putin as a cornered adversary — making him potentially “more dangerous.”
At the office of the director of national intelligence, for his first time as president, Biden spoke about the state of Russia’s oil-dependent economy and issued a dire warning about the risks of cyberadventurism.
“He knows he’s in trouble and that makes him more dangerous,” Biden said, a few weeks after meeting Putin in Geneva for a summit.
“He knows he’s in trouble,” President Joe Biden said of Russian President Vladimir Putin
“When I was with Mr. Putin, who has a real problem,” he said in a calm and calm tone. He sits on top of an economy that has nuclear weapons and oil wealth and nothing else. Nothing else. Their economy is now the eight smallest in the world – the largest in the world. He knows he’s in real trouble, which in my opinion makes him even more dangerous,” he said.
Biden spoke after a string of ransomware attacks — many of which are believed to have originated in Russia, although the government has failed to pin the most recent massive attack on the Kremlin itself.
‘I can’t guarantee this. and you are as knowledgeable as I am,” he told members of the intelligence community. “But I think it’s more likely — if we get into a war — we’re going to be a real high-power shooting war, as a result of a high-impact cyber breach,” he said.
Biden referred to his recent summit with Putin in his first address to the intelligence community as president as
“He’s on top of an economy that has nuclear weapons and oil wealth and nothing else,” Biden said.
Biden also spoke about the capabilities of US intelligence agencies. The nation has been unable to prevent ransom hacks, although the Justice Department did say it was able to recover more than $2 million in cryptocurrency ransoms following the Colonial Pipeline hack.
“He knows you’re better than his team, and it bothers him,” Biden said of Putin.
Biden’s comments about Putin come as Russian chess grandmaster and activist Gary Kasparov called on the US to increase sanctions directly against Putin and Russian oligarchs. Politics: ‘It is not an extreme measure. It’s the only effective one.’
He added: “Putin doesn’t care about Russia or Russians. There are no national interests, only his.’
Biden also accused Russia of spreading “disinformation” in the 2022 elections after US intelligence found that Russia had interfered in 2016 and 2020.
“Look at what Russia is already doing about the 2022 elections and about disinformation,” he said. “It is a pure violation of our sovereignty.”
He called on US intelligence to “address the widespread misinformation that makes it increasingly difficult for people to assess the facts and make decisions.”