US issues fresh sanctions against Russians over cyberattacks

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

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

US authorities hit three Russians and five companies with new sanctions, targeting a cyberresearch company and one that specializes in providing underwater diving equipment to Russia's lead security agency, the FSB.

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 U.S. Treasury has announced fresh sanctions on Russian citizens and companies suspected of links with Moscow's security and cyberattack forces.

The U.S. Treasury has expanded the package of sanctions against Russia, to include the corresponding list three more Russian companies and three individuals, as reported on Monday, June 11, on the official website of the U.S. Treasury.

US authorities also targeted a St. Petersburg company named Divetechnoservice, which it said provided underwater diving equipment to the FSB.

The sanctions are also in response to Russia's tracking and potential targeting of undersea communication cables, which carry the bulk of the world's telecommunications data, officials said. The three Russians charged, Aleksandr Lvovich Tribun, Oleg Sergeyevich Chirikov, and Vladimir Yakovlevich Kaganskiy, all have worked for 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.

An operator works during the mooring of an undersea fiber optic cable at Arrietara beach near the Spanish Basque village of Sopelana
Image Russia has been 'tracking' underwater internet cables

Mr Mnuchin said Digital Security provided material and support to Russia's Federal Security Services (FSB), and that Divetechnoservices supplied underwater equipment and diving systems, including a submarine, for Russian government agencies. In detailing the fresh sanctions, the announcement specifically pointed to attacks on the USA power grid and the 2017 NotPetya that targeted Ukraine and other parts of the world as examples of Russian cyberattacks.

"Today's action also targets the Russian government's underwater capabilities", the Treasury Department said.

According to Mnuchin, placed under the sanction of the company, "contributed to the improvement of the cyber and undersea capabilities of Russian Federation through their work with FSB".

No mention of Russian attacks on US elections was mentioned in the press release.

While the Trump administration has time and again vocally supported the Russian government, including recently advocating for its inclusion in the G7, President Donald Trump did sign on a new Russian sanctions bill last summer. 13694, as amended, for being owned or controlled by Digital Security.

The FSB, or Russia's Federal Security Service, is the successor to the KGB and is believed to carry out numerous government's cyberattacks. The other two organizations, Embedi and ERPScan, are apparently owned by Digital Security.

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