They have also exposed the limits of the federal government’s ability to prevent major disruptions to American life, at least based on current laws and resistance from some private firms to federal interference.
As Biden prepares for his first foreign trip, the issue is set to take an outsized role during his talks with European leaders, especially his summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Geneva, Switzerland.
The potential for more widespread shutdowns of various sectors, affecting more Americans or lasting for longer stretches, is a major concern inside the administration that has only grown as the ransomware attacks become more frequent, according to people familiar with the matter.
Still, the White House stopped short Friday of describing them as “national security threats.”
“I certainly think the President views those as a rising national security concern,” press secretary Jen Psaki said. She said the hacks were “an area where we need to continue to keep our focus, keep our assets, focus our energy and brainpower on what we can do to address it.”