United States blacklists Russian firms tied to FSB hacking ops

A flag on the Russian State Duma on Okhotny Ryad Street in Moscow on Jan. 21 2017

The United States slapped sanctions Monday on at least one Israeli company over links to a Russian firm accused of buttressing the "offensive cyber capabilities" of Russia's intelligence service, the FSB.

Steve Mnuchin, the Treasury Secretary, said the USA was "engaged in an ongoing effort to counter malicious actors working at the behest of the Russian Federation and its military and intelligence units to increase Russia's offensive cyber capabilities".

These sanctions freeze assets of the targeted businesses and individuals that they may have in the country and also prohibit Americans from engaging in transactions with these designated organizations and individuals.

Treasury said the sanctions were a response to a number of cyberattacks, including last year's NotPetya attack, as well as intrusions into the USA energy grid and global network infrastructure.

It is also reported today's action also targets the Russian government's underwater capabilities.

According to the USA government: "Russia has been active in tracking undersea communication cables, which carry the bulk of the world's telecommunications data".

The individuals facing sanctions are Divetechnoservices owner Vladimir Kaganskiy, its general director, Aleksandr Tribun, and its program manager, Oleg Chirikov. The author has made every effort to ensure accuracy of information provided; however, neither Kitco Metals Inc. nor the author can guarantee such accuracy.

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The entities and individuals were designated for aiding Russia's Federal Security Service, or FSB, the powerful intelligence and security agency sanctioned earlier for its role in interfering in the 2016 presidential election.

US officials announced new sanctions Monday to punish Russian entities and individuals over cyberattacks launched over the past year.

Moscow has repeatedly denied any involvement in the USA elections, calling them absurd.

The sanctions apply to five companies and three Russians.

According to the newsletter The Bell, Divetechnoservices has won more than 100 military procurement contracts since 2014 worth 3 billion rubles ($47.8 million).

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". Digital Security has some major clients, including Yandex, QIWI, Mail.ru Group, Tele2, and SAP. Washington also added the companies ERPScan and Embedi as subsidiaries of Digital Security. ERPScan is a well-known cybersecurity firm with offices in Palo Alto, California.

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