The Biden administration's response to last year's SolarWinds hack "will include a mix of tools seen and unseen", US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan told CBS's "Face The Nation" as he pointed the finger at Russia.
Sullivan pledged that "it will be weeks, not months" before the US prepares retaliatory measures against Moscow, adding that Washington will "ensure that Russia understands where the US draws the line on this kind of activity".
"And it will not simply be sanctions because, as you say, a response to a set of activities like this require a more comprehensive set of tools, and that is what the [Biden] administration intends to do", the adviser said.
Hack of Russian Origin?
The remarks come after Anne Neuberger, the US deputy national security adviser for cyber and emerging technology, reiterated during a White House briefing on 17 February that the US government continues to believe the SolarWinds breach was "likely of Russian origin".
Although the investigation into the December 2020 hack is still ongoing and in its early stages, Neuberger indicated that a total of nine federal agencies and roughly 100 private sector companies were compromised by the "broad and indiscriminate effort" by hackers.
This was preceded by several US intelligence agencies releasing a statement concluding that a so-called "Advanced Persistent Threat (APT) actor, likely Russian in origin, is responsible for most or all of the […] cyber compromises of both government and non-governmental networks".
The statement echoed then-US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo who claimed in December that Moscow was responsible for the SolarWinds hack. At the time, then-US President-elect Joe Biden stated that he would consider imposing sanctions against Russia as punishment.
Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov, for his part, underscored that "any accusations of Russia's involvement are absolutely unfounded and are a continuation of the kind of blind Russophobia that is resorted to following any incident".
At the time, then-President Donald Trump suggested that China rather than Russia may be responsible for the cyberattacks, adding that the scale of the cyberattacks had been exaggerated by the media and that the situation was under control.