© Reuters. US Senator Romney walks through the US Capitol in Washington
By Raphael Satter
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The new White House chief of staff said on Sunday that President-elect Joe Biden's response to the massive hacking campaign exposed last week would go beyond sanctions.
Ron Klain said Biden has shown ways to crack down on the suspected Russian hackers who have infiltrated half a dozen US government agencies and suspended thousands of American companies.
"It's not just sanctions. There are steps and things we could do to reduce the ability of foreign actors to participate in these attacks," Klain said on CBS "Face the Nation."
Options being considered by the Biden government to punish Moscow for its alleged role include financial sanctions and retaliatory measures against Russian infrastructure, people familiar with the matter told Reuters.
The Kremlin denies any role in hacking.
Biden, who becomes president Jan. 20, would likely have bipartisan support for a muscular response to the espionage campaign, two senators said on Sunday.
Republican Senator Mitt Romney said the breach was "extremely damaging" on NBC's Meet the Press.
"This requires an answer," he said. "We have to tackle that as soon as possible."
US Senator Mark Warner, the top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, said on ABC that the hack was still going on and that officials had not yet decided on its full scope. But he stopped short of the aggressive language of Romney, who called the hack "an invasion".
"This is in that gray area between espionage and an attack," said Warner. Nonetheless, he supported Romney's call for retaliation, saying Washington must make it clear to opponents that "if you take these types of action, we and others will strike back."
Officials and cybersecurity experts in the US are still struggling to get a grip on the scale of the hacking campaign in which US tech company SolarWinds acted as a springboard to infect the Texan company's customers – including finance departments , Trade and energy.
Up to 18,000 customers were left open to the hackers, but CEO Kevin Mandia – whose FireEye (NASDAQ 🙂 company helped uncover the hacking – told CBS that he "only had about 50 organizations or firms anywhere in that zone," "really "estimated concerned. "
Klain told CBS that much was still unknown.
"I think there are still many unanswered questions about the purpose, nature and extent of these specific attacks," he said.
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