US to Use Financial Sanctions in Response to Cyber Attacks

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -
A map of the United States displayed on a computer screen shows cyberattacks in real time at the headquarters of Bitdefender, a leading Romanian cybersecurity company, in Bucharest, Romania. (AP Photo/Octav Ganea, Mediafax)
A map of the United States displayed on a computer screen shows cyberattacks in real time at the headquarters of Bitdefender, a leading Romanian cybersecurity company, in Bucharest, Romania. (AP Photo/Octav Ganea, Mediafax)

The United States will impose sanctions against those behind cyberattacks which target transportation systems or the power grid, the White House said on Tuesday, citing Russia and China as increasingly assertive and sophisticated cyberoperators.

The sanctions will be implemented “when the conditions are right and when actions will further U.S. policy,” White House Counterterrorism Advisor Lisa Monaco said in prepared remarks to a cyber security conference.

Monaco cited an “increasingly diverse and dangerous” global landscape in which Iran has launched denial-of-service attacks on U.S. banks, and North Korea has also shown it can and will launch destructive attacks.

“To put it bluntly, we are in the midst of a revolution of the cyberthreat – one that is growing more persistent, more diverse, more frequent and more dangerous every day,” she said.

The United States is working with other countries to adopt voluntary norms of responsible cyberbehavior and to work to reduce malicious activity, she said. At the same time, it will use an executive order authorizing sanctions against those who attack U.S. critical infrastructure.

Monaco introduced a new directive from President Barack Obama which establishes a “clear framework” to coordinate the government’s response to cyberincidents.

“It will help answer a question heard too often from corporations and citizens alike – ‘In the wake of an attack, who do I call for help?'” she said.