Kremlin dismisses U.S. warning of potential Russian cyber attacks

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Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov attends a joint news conference of Russian President Vladimir Putin and Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko in Moscow, Russia February 18, 2022. Sputnik/Sergey Guneev/Kremlin via REUTERS/File Photo

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March 22 (Reuters) - The Kremlin on Tuesday rejected U.S. warnings that it may be preparing to conduct cyber attacks in response to Western sanctions, and said it did not engage in "banditry".

U.S. President Joe Biden on Monday told businesses to do more to protect themselves against possible cyber attacks by Russia, warning there was "evolving intelligence" that Moscow was exploring options on that front. read more

Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov told reporters: "The Russian Federation, unlike many Western countries, including the United States, does not engage in state-level banditry."

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Russia has previously rejected similar allegations, including accusations that it was responsible for hacks on Ukrainian banking and government websites in February.

Pentagon spokesman John Kirby on Tuesday said the U.S. Department of Defense has not suffered any cyberattacks, adding that U.S. officials were open with American business leaders at Monday's meeting about the likely risk to corporations.

"We haven't seen anything affect our infrastructure or critical U.S government infrastructure," he told MNSBC. "We wanted to make sure that leaders knew and were aware that the Russians would probably try this kind of tactic going forward."

Important U.S. companies that provide critical infrastructure should improve their cyber defenses, but there was "no certainty" such an attack would occur, senior White House cybersecurity official Anne Neuberger said on Monday.

Russian Deputy Industry and Trade Minister Vasiliy Shpak suggested Russia create a division of cyber troops to combat increased threats, in which developers could hone their skills and demonstrate their patriotism.

"After this, I hope, they will think 10 times before leaving their motherland in pursuit of easy money in foreign companies," the RIA news agency quoted Shpak as saying on Tuesday.

The cybersecurity arm of the telecoms firm Rostelecom (RTKM.MM) has said efforts to disrupt the operations of company websites have intensified this month. read more

Rostelecom Chief Executive Mikhail Oseevskiy said attacks on Russian websites were continuing and becoming more varied.

"We understand what the risks are and how they can be mitigated," Interfax quoted him as saying.

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Reporting by Reuters; Editing by Kevin Liffey and Jon Boyle

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