Lloyd Austin: Defense Secretary Says US Has ‘Offensive Options’ To Respond To Cyber Attacks
“We have the capacity to conduct offensive operations. We also have a significant capacity to be able to, to defend ourselves and we are always looking to defend ourselves from a military point of view,” Austin told Barbara Starr in an exclusive interview on Friday. .
“I have a number of offensive options,” Austin said, although he didn’t specifically refer to the last attack. “We will always maintain credible and effective options.”
A fuller version of Austin’s interview will air on CNN on Monday.
The group, which Microsoft calls “Nobelium,” this week targeted 3,000 email accounts in various organizations, most of them in the United States, the company said in a blog post Thursday.
The White House National Security Council and the U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) are both aware of the incident, according to spokespersons. The CISA “is working with the FBI and USAID to better understand the extent of the compromise and help potential victims,” a spokesperson said.
Asked about the United States’ ability to forestall any new cyberattacks, Austin told Starr on Friday it was his responsibility to present President Joe Biden with offensive options.
“My job is to create the options so that the president can choose when he wants to respond. We want good options that he can choose from. And that’s what, that’s what the Defense Ministry is focusing on. “Austin says.
Cyber security has been a major focus of the U.S. government following revelations that hackers put malicious code into a tool released by SolarWinds. A ransomware attack that shut down one of the most important pieces of America’s energy infrastructure – the Colonial Pipeline – earlier this month only heightened the alarm. This attack was carried out by a criminal group from Russia, according to the FBI.
Austin doubled the US government’s focus on the cyber battlefield on Friday.
“The cyber domain is really important, it’s part of the battlespace, it’s part of the architecture, something that we not only have to pay attention to, but we have to be dominant,” he said. .
“I have no doubts that we can continue to do what is necessary not only to be competitive, but also to stay ahead in this area, in this area.”
CNN’s Jill Disis, Zahid Mahmood, Michael Conte and Ellie Kaufman contributed to this report.