President Barack Obama has launched new sanctions aimed at cyber criminals outside the United States that threaten its foreign policy, national security or economic stability.
Obama signed an executive order that considers such activities a “national emergency” and allows the Treasury Department to freeze the assets and bar other financial transactions of entities engaged in destructive cyber attacks.
The policy gives the administration the same sanctions tools it uses against other threats including crises in the Middle East and Russia’s aggression in Ukraine and makes them available for less visible cyber threats.
Its the latest US effort to get tough with hackers after the indictment of five Chinese military officers and the decision to “name and shame” North Korea for a high-profile attack on Sony.
It also follows a string of cyber attacks aimed at Target, Home Depot and other retailers, as well as military networks.
Obama said harming critical infrastructure, misappropriating funds, using trade secrets for competitive advantage and disrupting computer networks would trigger the penalties.
Companies that knowingly use stolen trade secrets to undermine the US economy would also be targeted, Reuters reported Thursday.
“From now on, we have the power to freeze their assets, make it harder for them to do business with US companies, and limit their ability to profit from their misdeeds,” Obama said.
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