The US president suggested that cyber attacks could escalate into a full-blown war as tensions with Russia and China are growing due to a series of hacking incidents targeting the US government agencies, companies and infrastructure. Mr Biden claimed that cyber attacks are “increasingly able to cause damage and disruption in the real world”.
In a speech at the Office for the Director of National Intelligence Mr Biden said: “If we end up in a war, a real shooting war with a major power, it’s going to be as a consequence of a cyber breach.”
Several hacking attacks have revealed the extent of US cyber vulnerability.
The attacks ranged from extensive espionage breaches that affected the government to ransomware threats that brought operations at an important oil pipeline and meat packing plants to a complete stop.
The US president and his administration have blamed the governments of Russia and China for some of the attacks.
Several US officials warned that the USA would respond with a “mix of tools seen and unseen”.
However, despite the warnings, the cyber breaches have continued.
The Biden administration has not clarified who such a war might be fought against, but the US President did mention Russian leader Vladimir Putin by name in his remarks.
Mr Biden alleged that Russia was spreading misinformation ahead of the 2022 US midterm elections.
The US president said: “It’s a pure violation of our sovereignty.”
He continued: “Mr Putin . . . has a real problem. He is sitting on top of an economy that has nuclear weapons and oil wells and nothing else. Nothing else.
“He knows he’s in real trouble, which makes him even more dangerous.”
Last month at a summit in Geneva, Mr Biden warned Mr Putin that the US would “respond with cyber” if Russia or Russian-based hackers targeted critical US infrastructure.
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According to the Financial Times, the prohibited sectors spanned energy, healthcare, IT and commercial facilities.
And all of those sectors have been allegedly already targeted by Russian hackers since the 2020 US elections.
Mr Biden also claimed that the Chinese president Xi Jinping was “deadly earnest” about China becoming the most powerful military force in the world by 2040, as well as the largest economy.
The US president said: “It’s real . . . This boy’s got a plan.
“We better figure out how we’re going to keep pace without exacerbating [the situation].”
Mr Biden warned that cyber attacks were just one aspect of the growing threats facing the US.
He added that there would be more developments in the next 10 years than in the past 50, placing a tremendous burden on the intelligence community.
“It’s really going to get tougher,” he said.
The news comes after a report revealed that China is constructing more than 100 new silos for its nuclear arsenal.
One US Congressman has warned Beijing’s nuclear build-up was “unprecedented” and presented a clear threat to the West.
The Federation of American Scientists’ (FAS) dossier, published on Monday said satellite images showed China was building a new field of 110 silos near Hami in the eastern part of its Xinjiang region.
Earlier this month, the State Department called China’s nuclear build-up concerning, accusing China’s President Xi Jinping of deviating from decades of nuclear strategy based around minimal deterrence.
It called on China to engage with it “on practical measures to reduce the risks of destabilising arms races.”