U.S. sanctions Russians over military, intelligence hacking

United States Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin holds a news conference after the G7 Finance Ministers Summit in Whistler, British Columbia, Canada, June 2, 2018. Picture: REUTERS/Ben Nelms

WASHINGTON – The US Treasury imposed sanctions on three Russian individuals and five companies on Monday, saying they had worked with Moscow’s military and intelligence services on ways to conduct cyber attacks against the United States and its allies.

“The United States is engaged in an ongoing effort to counter malicious actors working at the behest of the Russian Federation and its military and intelligence units to increase Russia’s offensive cyber capabilities,” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in a statement.

“The entities designated today have directly contributed to improving Russia’s cyber and underwater capabilities through their work with the FSB and therefore jeopardize the safety and security of the United States and our allies,” Mnuchin said, using an acronym for Russia’s Federal Security Service.

The designation blocks all property of those targeted that is subject to U.S. jurisdiction and prohibits American citizens from engaging in transactions with them.

Moscow had no immediate comment on the new sanctions.

The Treasury said Russia’s “malign and destabilizing cyber activities” included the NotPetya attack last year, which spread across Europe, Asia and the Americas. The White House in February blamed Russia for the attack, saying it caused billions of dollars in damage and was part of the Kremlin’s effort to destabilize Ukraine.

The attacks also included assaults on the US energy grid and on internet routers and switches, the Treasury said.

“Today’s action also targets the Russian government’s underwater capabilities,” it said. “Russia has been active in tracking undersea communication cables, which carry the bulk of the world’s telecommunications data.”

The designated firms are Digital Security, ERPScan, Embedi, Kvant Scientific Research Institute, and Divetechnoservices.

Divetechnoservices’ offerings include the design, manufacture and supply of professional diving equipment, wrecking and underwater work, according to its website.

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