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Sanctions Coming For Overseas Cybercriminals

Following the recent declaration that international cyber threats constitute a “national emergency,” President Obama has declared that the U.S. will seek sanctions on those who launch cyberattacks on U.S. businesses.

Via an executive order, the government now has the power to target cybercriminals in the event that their attacks are a threat to critical infrastructure, the Web, trade secrets or financial information (such as large troves of credit card data).

Though the U.S. has not enumerated which targets will be a focus, officials did note that the executive order would be enforceable against individual hackers hired by companies or countries.  The law fills a hole law enforcement faces when cyberattacks are based in nations that do not have extradition with the U.S. or when home nations are willing to turn a blind eye to this category of crime.

Potential punishments under the new rules will include freezing assets under U.S. jurisdiction and prohibiting U.S. persons or entities from engaging in transactions with those under sanctions.

“Cyber threats pose one of the most serious economic and national security challenges to the United States, and my administration is pursuing a comprehensive strategy to confront them,” Obama said in a statement. “This executive order offers a targeted tool for countering the most significant cyber threats that we face.”

The order has received some early praise from industry.

“We are optimistic that the actions undertaken by the White House today will raise the cost to our cyber adversaries and establish a more effective deterrent framework to punish actors,” said Dmitri Alperovitch, co-founder of cyber security firm CrowdStrike.

The new sanctions will apply only to significant cyber threats and would be used against individuals or organizations that knowingly receive or use trade secrets stolen through cyber breaches.

 

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