The US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) is planning an unprecedented cyber attack against Russia in retaliation for what Washington calls Moscow’s interference in the American presidential election, intelligence officials have revealed.
The CIA has been asked to lay out options for a "clandestine" cyber operation designed to “embarrass” Russia, the NBC News reported Friday, citing current and former officials with direct knowledge of the situation.
The report did not reveal much about the nature of the attack, but confirmed that the spying agency had begun “opening cyber doors, selecting targets and making other preparations for an operation.”
One official claimed that CIA hackers had already gathered important documents that would implicate Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Putin seems to be a prime target of America's government-sponsored hacking attacks against the Kremlin, something that retired US Admiral James Stavridis made clear during an interview with the NBC News.
Stavridis called for breaching Russia’s internet networks and exposing Putin’s illegal financial deals.
“It would be very embarrassing if that was revealed, and that would be a proportional response to what we've seen,” he said.
Earlier on Friday, US Vice President Joe Biden said that Washington was “sending a message” to Putin, in response to a series of hacks targeting the US Democratic Party.
Previously, hacked emails from the Democratic National Committee (DNC) had revealed an insider effort by some party officials to push Clinton’s strong rival, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, out of the race for nomination.
American intelligence officials along with Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, have accused Moscow of carrying out the attacks in order to tip the scale in favor of Donald Trump, the Republican ticket.
Putin rejected the allegations on Wednesday, saying the hackings “has nothing to do with Russia's interests.”
A team within the CIA’s Center for Cyber Intelligence is preparing to carry out the mission, using a staff of hundreds and a budget in the hundreds of millions, the report noted.