High-profile Democrat calls for US to go ‘on the offense’ on foreign cyberattacks

“I think we do have to go more on the offense,” Schiff told “Face the Nation” on Sunday. “That means when we identify cyber groups that are working in conjunction with foreign states, that we treat them as an arm of the state. And we use our cyber-capability to destroy or disrupt the infrastructure they’re using, and to raid whatever funds they’re accumulating from these attacks. Does that yield to greater instability? Very possibly, because we would be taking action against foreign parties.”


Schiff is chair of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. He’s also one of the most high-profile Democrats who pushed the Russian collusion narrative.

“[Russia] is still trying to sow division and discord. I think they may have been deterred somewhat from crossing further lines during the last presidential election because they recognized that were Joe Biden to be elected, they would have to pay a price for it, and they have. But that doesn’t mean they wouldn’t intervene in the next election. We can expect they’ll use certain tactics, like social media, to help favored candidates. But I do think they’ll be a little more risk-averse when it comes to overt things, like hacking institutions,” Schiff said. “They have to know that would prompt a very serious response from this president, unlike what we have had over the last four years.”

“This is happening, and it has been happening for years and years,” he said. “And what we’ve been doing thus far hasn’t worked. One of the hospitals in my district was ransomware attacked years and years ago, and it was a paltry amount in Bitcoin they were required to pay, but since then the amounts have gone up, the sophistication of these groups have increased, and unless we get more serious both about our defense, which has to be number one, but also our offense, we’re going to see more of this.”

President Biden met with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday. Biden told reporters he gave Putin a list of 16 critical infrastructure entities that are “off limits” to a Russian cyberattack. Biden’s list effectively gave the Russians a green light to target everything not on that list without facing serious repercussions, national security experts and senior Republicans told Fox News

President Joe Biden meets with Russian President Vladimir Putin, Wednesday, June 16, 2021, at the 'Villa la Grange', in Geneva, Switzerland. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

President Joe Biden meets with Russian President Vladimir Putin, Wednesday, June 16, 2021, at the ‘Villa la Grange’, in Geneva, Switzerland. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky) (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

“I talked about the proposition that certain critical infrastructure should be off limits to attack — period — by cyber or any other means. I gave them a list, if I’m not mistaken — I don’t have it in front of me — 16 specific entities; 16 defined as critical infrastructure under U.S. policy, from the energy sector to our water systems,” Biden said.

Schiff said Sunday that Putin has no plausible deniability regarding cybercriminals harbored in Russia.


“It is not credible for him to suggest even if he knew they were operating on his soil that he was powerless to do something about it. These criminal actors don’t go after the Russian oligarchs, they don’t go after the Russian state or Russian industry because they know they would end up in a gulag somewhere,” Schiff said.

Russian cybercriminals are believed to be behind a pair of recent cyberattacks targeting the Colonial Pipeline and meat-processing company JBS Holdings. Both companies paid multi-million dollar ransoms to regain access to their systems.

Fox News’ Houston Keene contributed to this report.

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