The White House is considering launching an unprecedented cyber attack against Russia in retaliation for their alleged interference in the US election, intelligence officials say.
Current and former officials have said that the CIA has been asked to deliver options for “clandestine” cyber operations designed to “embarrass” the Russian government.
The anonymous officials told NBC News the CIA were already operating cyber doors, selecting targets and making other preparations for an operation.
The source said they had already gathered information that could potentially expose wrongdoing by Russian President Vladimir Putin.
It follows repeated alleged attempts by Russian state-backed hacking groups which have resulted in the leak of thousands of emails sent by senior members of the Democratic party.
A hacker known as Guccifer 2.0 released thousands of emails sent between senior members of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) days before their conference in July where they discussed ways to undermine the candidacy of Senator Bernie Sanders. It led to the resignation of the DNC chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz.
Another group, DC Leaks, is believed to have leaked details of Michelle Obama’s passport and a third, called Fancy Bears, is thought to have attempted to disrupt the UK General Election in 2015 by posing as an Islamist group hacking into the servers of major TV broadcasters.
In pictures: Aleppo bombing
In pictures: Aleppo bombing
1/14 Bombing in Aleppo
Smoke rises after airstrikes on the rebel-held al-Sakhour neighborhood of Aleppo, Syria April 29, 2016.
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A Syrian family runs for cover amid the rubble of destroyed buildings following a reported air strike on the rebel-held neighbourhood of Al-Qatarji in the northern Syrian city of Aleppo, on April 29, 2016.
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A man reacts as he stands on blood stains at a site hit by airstrikes in the rebel held area of Aleppo's al-Fardous district, Syria, April 29, 2016.
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The damage of the airstrikes in the rebel-held area of Aleppo on April 28
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The damaged the Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF)-backed al-Quds hospital after it was hit by airstrikes, in a rebel-held area of Syria's Aleppo
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Syrians evacuate an injured man amid the rubble of destroyed buildings following an air strike on a rebel-held of Aleppo on April 29, 2016.
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People inspect the damage at a site hit by airstrikes, in the rebel-held area of Aleppo's Bustan al-Qasr
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A man leads a woman in tears and child out of the scene after airstrikes hit Aleppo
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Civil defence members search for survivors after an airstrike at a field hospital in the rebel held area of al-Sukari district of Aleppo
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A Syrian boy is comforted as he cries next to the body of a relative who died in a reported air strike in the rebel-held neighbourhood of al-Soukour in the northern city of Aleppo
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A Syrian family walks amid the rubble of destroyed buildings following a reported air strike in the Bustan al-Qasr rebel-held district of the northern Syrian city of Aleppo
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Syrian civil defence volunteers and rescuers remove a baby from under the rubble of a destroyed building following a reported air strike on the rebel-held neighbourhood of al-Kalasa in the northern Syrian city of Aleppo
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Syrians help a wounded youth following an air strike on the Fardous rebel held neighbourhood of the northern Syrian city of Aleppo
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Syrian civil defence volunteers evacuate people from a damaged building following a reported airstrike in the rebel-held neighbourhood of Tareeq al-Bab in the northern city of Aleppo
When asked about reports the US was planning a cyber attack on Russia, Vice-President Joe Biden told US news show Meet the Press that they would be “sending a message” to the Kremlin.
It “will be at the time of our choosing, and under the circumstances that will have the greatest impact”, he added.
When he was asked if the American public will know when the “message” is sent, he replied that he “hoped not”.
Relations between the two countries have reached a new low in recent weeks with former MI6 boss Sir John Sawers warning that the world is entering an era “more dangerous than the Cold War”.
Russia is expected to sail an aircraft carrier and a fleet of warships through the English Channel in the coming weeks.
The Royal Navy is preparing to intercept and escort the eight ships as they pass close to the British coast on their way to attack the rebel-held areas of Syria in Moscow’s latest provocation.
A British naval source described the move as “posturing” and another said the deployment of Russia’s only aircraft carrier, the Admiral Kuznetsov, was “significant”.
The second source told The Times it demonstrated that Russia was keen to show its military strength as it faces economic pressure from the fall of commodity prices and sanctions by Western leaders over its actions in the Ukraine and Syria.
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- cyber hacking
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