US military hacking unit targets cyber criminals behind ransomware attacks

The U.S. military's hacking unit is taking steps to combat cyber criminal groups that have conducted ransomware attacks on American companies. 

A spokesperson for the unit, known as Cyber Command, did not specify what the actions would entail; however, this is one of the first and most direct acknowledgements that the group is targeting criminal entities that attack the computer systems of U.S. businesses, according to CNN

These actions come after ransomware attacks on Colonial Pipeline, which supplies roughly 45 percent of the East Coast's fuel, and JBS USA, one of the largest meat suppliers in the country, took place earlier this year. 

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Gen. Paul Nakasone, who leads Cyber Command and serves as the director of the National Security Agency, told The New York Times that the government previously saw ransomware attacks as the responsibility of law enforcement.

Nakasone added that attacks such as the one at Colonial Pipeline, however, demonstrated that the criminal groups leading the attacks are "impacting our critical infrastructure," noting that the government would now take a more hands-on approach to dealing with this threat.

In the past year, cyber threats have ramped up following a series of major attacks on federal agencies and other organizations.

Following the attack on Colonial Pipeline, the company was able to resume its normal business operations after paying a ransom of the equivalent of $4.4 million in bitcoin. At the time, President BidenJoe BidenMacro grid will keep the lights on Pelosi suggests filibuster supporters 'dishonor' MLK's legacy on voting rights Sanders calls out Manchin, Sinema ahead of filibuster showdown MORE confirmed that the attack was carried out by a criminal group based in Russia, though it was not backed by the Russian government itself.