Sanctions are administration's newest tool to combat cyberattacks

April 2, 2015
WASHINGTON (4/3/15)--President Barack Obama signed an executive order this week granting the U.S. Treasury Department new authority to set and enforce sanctions against any person who executes or benefits from a cyberattack against any U.S. "critical infrastructure."
The order defines "critical infrastructure" as "any of the designated critical infrastructure sectors identified in Presidential Policy Directive 21," and which includes the financial sector.
"Starting today, we're giving notice to those who pose significant threats to our security or economy by damaging our critical infrastructure, disrupting or hijacking our computer networks, or stealing the trade secrets of American companies or the personal information of American citizens for profit," the president said.

The order, part of a series of initiatives launched by the administration to combat the growing problem of cyberattacks, could subject a cybercriminal to such penalties as freezing of assets and denial of entry into the United States.

In an accompanying document the administration noted, "Malicious cyber actors often rely on U.S. infrastructure to commit the acts described in the Order, and they often use our financial institutions or partners to transfer their money.

"By sanctioning these actors, we can limit their access to the U.S. financial system and U.S. technology supply and infrastructure. Basically, sanctioning them can harm their ability to both commit these malicious acts and to profit from them."