US-Russia relations

Biden Administration Mulling Cyberattacks Against Russian Hackers

Officials say criminal ransomware attacks from abroad, once a nuisance, have become a major source of economic damage

Vice President Kamala Harris listens as President Joe Biden speaks about the COVID-19 vaccination program, in the South Court Auditorium on the White House campus, Wednesday, June 2, 2021, in Washington.
AP Photo/Evan Vucci

The Biden administration is moving to treat ransomware attacks as a national security threat, using intelligence agencies to spy on foreign criminals and contemplating offensive cyber operations against hackers inside Russia, U.S. officials and other sources familiar with the matter tell NBC News.

Though using the military to take action against criminals would not be without precedent, it’s controversial in legal circles, and any American cyber action against targets in Russia would risk retaliation.

But officials say criminal ransomware attacks from abroad, once a nuisance, have become a major source of economic damage, as the disruption of gasoline and meat supplies in recent weeks has illustrated.

Representatives of the NSA and U.S. Cyber Command declined to comment.

Read the full story on NBCNews.com