Today, President Obama signed an executive order that will allow the US government to go after those who perpetrate cyber attacks with sanctions
"Cyber intrusions and attacks – many of them originating overseas – are targeting our businesses, stealing trade secrets, and costing American jobs," says President Obama.
"In response to these cyber threats, our government is using every tool at our disposal – including diplomacy, law enforcement, and cooperation with other nations and the private sector – to strengthen our defenses and detect, prevent, respond to, and recover from attacks. Still, it’s often hard to go after bad actors, in part because of weak or poorly enforced foreign laws, or because some governments are either unwilling or unable to crack down on those responsible.
"That’s why, with the new Executive Order I’m signing today, I’m for the first time authorizing targeted sanctions against individuals or entities whose actions in cyberspace result in significant threats to the national security, foreign policy, or economic health or financial stability of the United States."
You can read the entire executive order here.
According to Obama, the White House's primary focus will be on international threats. "From now on, we have the power to freeze their assets, make it harder for them to do business with U.S. companies, and limit their ability to profit from their misdeeds," says Obama.
Obama also authorized sanctions against companies that use information gained from said cyberattacks, what he calls the "demand side".
"Malicious cyber activity — whether it be stealing sensitive information, including personal identifiers, or trade secrets — is often profit-motivated. Because those responsible want to enjoy the ill-gotten proceeds of their activities, sanctions can have a significant impact. By freezing assets of those subject to sanctions and making it more difficult for them to do business with U.S. entities, we can remove a powerful economic motivation for committing these acts in the first place. With this new tool, malicious cyber actors who would target our critical infrastructure or seek to take down Internet services would be subject to these costs when designated for sanctions," says Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism Lisa Monaco.
Back in February, Obama established a new cyber intelligence agency called the Cyber Threat Intelligence Integration Center (CTIIC). The brand new agency tasked with centralizing and organizing intelligence related to cyber threats to help combat cyber attacks. With these two actions, Obama is making good on promises he made in the SOTU address to focus on cybersecurity.
Image via Barack Obama, Medium