US announces new sanctions against Russian trolls and hackers

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The US Department of the Treasury UU It has instituted a new set of sanctions against five entities and 19 people linked to Russian piracy and influence operations. The sanctions are directed against many of the same employees of the Internet Research Agency that was charged by Special Adviser Robert Mueller in February, as well as several members of Russian intelligence. US persons and corporations are prohibited from doing business with any person designated by the sanctions, which reduces the objectives of much of the global financial infrastructure.
"The Administration confronts and counteracts the evil Russian cyber activity, including its intent to interfere in US elections, destructive cyber attacks and intrusions directed at critical infrastructures," Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said in a statement accompanying the announcement.
Today's appointments come in response to a bill enacted in August, which requires the Treasury to impose new sanctions before January 29. When the deadline came initially, the State Department told the senators that it did not plan to implement more sanctions, considering that the existing measures were enough to deter. Today's measures represent only part of the sanctions ordered by the bill.
The new sanctions also point to six members of a Russian intelligence agency for their role in the NotPetya attack in 2017. The attack shut down central banks, transport centers and power plants across Ukraine, and was widely attributed to an operation led by the Russian intelligence. The malware was disguised as a ransomware, which encrypts the data of a system and requires a payment to restore it, but experts believe that the attackers were more interested in punishing Ukraine than in making money.
"Pretending to be a ransomware while in fact it is an attack by the nation state," one analyst wrote at the time, "is in our opinion a very subtle way for the attacker to control the narrative of the attack."


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