Thursday, 13 December, 2018

US sanctions Russians for hacks and ‘tracking cables carrying world data’

US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin testifies before a Senate Appropriations Committee for Financial Services hearing on the proposed FY2019 budget for the Treasury Department in Washington DC Image US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has issued the new sanctions
Melinda Barton | 14 June, 2018, 07:22

The Trump administration has sanctioned five Russian companies and three individuals for aiding the Russian intelligence agency's worldwide cyberattacks, Axios reported Monday. The latest step by the Trump administration comes in response to Russian cyberattacks on the USA and its allies, including the NotPetya cyberattack and cyber intrusions of the United States energy grid.

All worked on development of "offensive" cyber and underwater capabilities, posing a danger to the security of the United States and its allies, Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin said.

Mr Munchin claimed the sanctions targeted entities that have "directly contributed to improving Russia's cyber and underwater capabilities" that put at risk "the safety and security of the United States and our allies".

This story is breaking and will be updated.

The individuals placed on the sanctions list are Divetechnoservices owner Vladimir Kaganskiy, its general director, Aleksandr Tribun, and its program manager, Oleg Chirikov. Treasury said that Russian Federation has been active in tracking undersea communication cables, which carry the bulk of the world's telecommunications data.

Mnuchin said the U.S.is committed to "aggressively targeting" anyone aiding the FSB, saying the USA would do so under the 2017 sanctions law, known as the Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA).

According to the Treasury Department, the sanctioned firms and individuals are involved in supporting and bolstering the Russian government's offensive hacking activities against the United States and other countries.

The blacklisting means any property or assets that the targeted people and companies have in USA jurisdiction will be frozen, and US citizens may not do business with them.

St. Petersburg-based Divetechnoservices is the main focus of the new sanctions for allegedly supplying Russian agencies, including the Federal Security Service (FSB), with underwater equipment.

Embedi has found a lot of vulnerabilities in products from Microsoft, Intel and Cisco among others - but has disclosed them in the same way any other security research company does. Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control, or OFAC, is also designating several entities and individuals for being owned or controlled by, or acting for or on behalf of, the three entities that have enabled the FSB.

"I woke up and was embraced by such news", he said. "ERPScan is a private company registered in 2014 in the Netherlands and are not a subsidiary of any company listed in this document".

The new sanctions come three days after President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump: "Excitement in the air" ahead of Kim meeting Trump doubles down on criticism of EU, Canada Merkel: EU will retaliate against Trump tariffs MORE enraged US allies and lawmakers by calling on the Group of Seven (G-7) industrialized nations to reinstate Russian Federation. Mikhail Baranov, Digital Security's commercial director, refused to comment on the sanctions, telling The Bell: "It's a odd story". "We will continue helping protect critical SAP and Oracle software from cyberattacks as we did, and it doesn't matter what has happened".

Polyakov Alexander, founder and CTO of ERPScan has been in contact to say he's baffled by the ban and it appears someone in the Treasury Department has goofed.