United States announces more sanctions against Russian Federation over hacking concerns

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United States treasury secretary Steven Mnuchin announced the sanctions, saying they were to counter "malicious actors" working to "increase Russia's offensive cyber-capabilities".

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.

The Treasury Department on Monday sanctioned five Russian entities and three Russian individuals for helping Russia build up its offensive hacking prowess, targeting them as part of an continuing effort to deter Moscow's aggression in cyberspace, USA officials said.

Monday's action also targets the Russian government's underwater capabilities.

According to the Treasury Department, "Russia has been active in tracking undersea communication cables" which carry global telecommunications data.

The companies affected are: Digital Security and its subsidiaries ERPScan and Embedi; the Kvant Scientific Research Institute; and Divetechnoservices.

Furthermore, sanctions apply to Aleksandr Lvovich Tribun, Oleg Sergeyevich Chirikov and Vladimir Yakovlevich Kaganskiy for acting for or on behalf of Divetechnoservices. The author has made every effort to ensure accuracy of information provided; however, neither Kitco Metals Inc. nor the author can guarantee such accuracy.

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The official statement said that these designated entities have provided material and technological support to Russia's Federal Security Service (FSB).

The Treasury notice drew attention to recent Russian attempts to destabilize its geopolitical rivals in the West including the NotPetya ransomware campaign, attacks on the United States energy grid and the VPNFilter campaign to compromise network devices around the world.

Since the USA intelligence community released its conclusion in January 2017 that Moscow had engaged in a hacking-and-propaganda campaign during the 2016 presidential election, US authorities have stepped up efforts to punish cybercompanies who have allegedly worked with Russian security agencies. The last company was working on a $1.5-million "submersible craft" for the FSB. The U.S. agency did provide details of what the companies did to bolster the FSB's offensive cyber capabilities, but identified them as a threat to U.S. security nonetheless.

The FSB, or Russia's Federal Security Service, is the successor to the KGB and is believed to carry out numerous government's cyberattacks.

In 2012, Divetechnoservices says it supplied Canadian "DeepWorker" underwater vehicles to "a Russian state enterprise". 13694, as amended, for being owned or controlled by Digital Security.

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.

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