For the first time, the United States has imposed sanctions in response to a cyber attack on a private company. On January 2, President Obama signed an Executive Order imposing additional economic sanctions against North Korea as a result of the recently disclosed and highly publicized cyber attack. Obama authorized the Treasury Department to forbid US individuals and companies from doing business with designated officials and controlled entities of the North Korean Government and their ruling political party, and to prohibit those blacklisted from accessing the US financial system.
The Order immediately targets 10 North Korean government officials and three North Korean State entities, including the primary intelligence agency and State-run arms dealer. The 10 individuals identified by the Treasury Department are government intelligence officials and arms dealers working in China, Syria, Iran, Russia, and Namibia. The White House acknowledged that there is no evidence the 10 officials were directly involved in the cyber attack, but stated the sanctioned parties play key roles in cyber operations, weapons proliferation, and other illicit activities, and the sanctions will significantly disrupt the North Korean government. According to senior administration officials, the sanctions are designed to deter North Korea, China, and other countries engaged in offensive cyber activities amid growing concerns about the increasing range and sophistication of threats in cyber espionage.
The sanctioned North Korean entities are the Reconnaissance General Bureau, the Korea Mining Development Trading Corporation, and the Korea Tangun Trading Corporation. The 10 individuals added by the Treasury Department to the list of Specially Designated Nationals (SDNs) are: Kil Jong Hun, Kim Kwang Yon, Jang Song Chol, Yu Kwang Ho, Kim Yong Chol, Jang Yong Son, Kim Kyu, Ryu Jin, Kang Ryong, and Kim Kwang Chun.
The new sanctions supplement existing trade and economic bans against North Korea. President Obama has previously authorized three rounds of restrictions on North Korea, most recently in 2011, related to the country's nuclear program. Administration officials said the sanctions were only the first step in the United States' "proportional response" to the cyber attack and that the Administration may expand the scope of its sanctions in coming months.
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