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When the White House announced President Joe Biden rallied American allies to condemn China’s state-sponsored hacking, many in Washington were perplexed as he bypassed more punitive measures.
China’s Ministry of State Security, which U.S. intelligence officials accused of cyber spying and hacking for profit, was behind multiple “zero-day” exploits that breached the Microsoft Exchange Server, prompting Biden’s response. The attacks take advantage of security holes in widely used software, such as the Microsoft Exchange email service, and can operate undetected until the hole is patched.
WHITE HOUSE DEFENDS BIDEN’S ‘COORDINATED’ RESPONSE TO CHINESE GOVERNMENT-SPONSORED HACKERS
Asked this week why Biden seemed to hold off on a stronger condemnation of China, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said, “That was not the intention he was trying to project.”
The effort to coordinate multilateral partners from the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Japan, and NATO “was under [Biden’s] direction,” Psaki said. “He continues to feel its important to lead from a position of strength in close coordination with our partners and allies around the world, and he takes the malicious cyber activity — whether it’s from Russia or China, whomever the actors may be — quite seriously.”
She said economic ties with China wouldn’t stop further U.S. retaliation if deemed necessary.
Dmitri Alperovitch, who leads the Silverado Policy Accelerator, a Washington, D.C.-based cybersecurity think tank, questioned Biden’s inconsistent response in a blog post in light of a forceful retaliation to the SolarWinds breach that U.S. intelligence linked to Russia earlier this year.
“Having drawn a red line in the case of the SolarWinds breach … the United States ought to calibrate its responses to subsequent attacks relative to that line,” he wrote. “By every conceivable technical standard, the Exchange hacks were the more damaging and more reckless of the two actions. For the sake of both strategic and normative consistency, the administration should be prepared to impose more serious consequences.”
It is hard to say why the Biden administration has refrained from using…