"The US Department of Justice is elevating investigations of ransomware attacks to a similar priority as terrorism," the message reads.
In practice, it means that investigators in US attorney's offices handling ransomware attacks will be expected to share both updated case details and active technical information with leaders in Washington.
Last month, a cyber criminal group that the US authorities said operates from Russia, penetrated the pipeline operator on the US East Coast, locking its systems and demanding a ransom. The hack caused a shutdown lasting several days, led to a spike in gas prices, panic buying and localized fuel shortages in the southeast.
Colonial Pipeline decided to pay the hackers who invaded their systems nearly $5 million to regain access.
The Justice Department's decision to push ransomware into this special process illustrates how the issue is being prioritized. Previously, this model has been applied to terrorism and national security cases.