President Barack Obama issued an executive order to impose sanctions on a number of Russian military and intelligence officials in response to the alleged hacking campaigns against the 2016 US Presidential Election.
The US ejected 35 Russian intelligence operatives from the United States and imposed sanctions on nine entities and individuals.
The Russians individuals ejected by the US Government are working out of the Russia’s consulate in San Francisco and the Russian embassy in Washington.
According to a White House fact sheet issued on the executive order, the individuals due to the “harassment of our diplomatic personnel in Russia by security personnel and police.”
The US Government sanctioned the Russian intelligence services, the GRU (Russian Main Intelligence Directorate) and the FSB (Federal Security Service), four GRU officers, and three other organizations. The actions are the Obama administration’s response to a Russian hacking and disinformation campaign used to interfere in the American election process.
The order was issued concurrently a report from US intelligence that confirms the cyber attacks against the 2015 Presidential election aimed to influence the results of the vote.
The Department of Homeland Security and Federal Bureau of Investigation issued a Joint Analysis Report (JAR) containing “declassified technical information on Russian civilian and military intelligence services’ malicious cyber activity, to better help network defenders in the United States and abroad identify, detect, and disrupt Russia’s global campaign of malicious cyber activities,” according to an Obama administration statement.
“The JAR includes information on computers around the world that Russian intelligence services have co-opted without the knowledge of their owners in order to conduct their malicious activity in a way that makes it difficult to trace back to Russia.”
Some of the data were not disclosed before, they are part of declassified government report.
The JAR includes technical details about the malicious code used by the Russian intelligence services in its campaigns. The report also includes the “indicators of compromise” for the malware used by the Russian hackers.
“All Americans should be alarmed by Russia’s actions.” reads a President Obama’s statement.
The executive order addresses the GRU, FSB, the Esage Lab of the Russian security company, the firm Special Technology Center, and Russia’s Professional Association of Designers of Data Processing Systems. The four individuals targeted by the order are the GRU chief General-Lieutenant Igor Korobov, the GRU Deputy Chief and Head of Signals Intelligence Sergey Aleksandrovich Gizunov, the GRU First Deputy Chiefs Igor Olegovich Kostyukov and Vladimir Stepanovich Alexseyev.
“The order amends section 1(a) of Executive Order 13694 by providing authority for blocking the property and interests in property of any person determined by the Secretary of the Treasury, in consultation with the Attorney General and the Secretary of State, to be responsible for or complicit in, or to have engaged in, directly or indirectly, cyberenabled activities originating from, or directed by persons located, in whole or in substantial part, outside the United States that are reasonably likely to result in, or have materially contributed to, a significant threat to the national security, foreign policy, or economic health or financial stability of the United States and that have the purpose or effect of … tampering with, altering, or causing a misappropriation of information with the purpose or effect of interfering with or undermining election processes or institutions.”
The order intends to persecute and individual that operates to interfere with the US Internal Affairs, for example conducting hacking activities or distributing information that may interfere with elections and other political events.
What will happen in the next months?
It is difficult to say, President Trump will have to share the Obama’s approach against Russian interference or downplay the Russian threat.
On December 28, Trump responded to a question about sanctions over the hacking against US infrastructure:
“I think we ought to get on with our lives. I think that computers have complicated lives very greatly. The whole age of computer has made it where nobody knows exactly what is going on. We have speed, we have a lot of other things, but I’m not sure we have the kind, the security we need.”
Meantime President Obama confirmed that the sanctions just applied will be placed side by side with other measures against any interference on US Internal Affairs.”We will continue to take a variety of actions at a time and place of our choosing, some of which will not be
“We will continue to take a variety of actions at a time and place of our choosing, some of which will not be publicised.”
“In addition to holding Russia accountable for what it has done, the United States and friends and allies around the world must work together to oppose Russia’s efforts to undermine established international norms of behavior, and interfere with democratic governance.” said the President Obama.
“To that end, my Administration will be providing a report to Congress in the coming days about Russia’s efforts to interfere in our election, as well as malicious cyber activity related to our election cycle in previous elections.”
Let’s close with a curiosity, the Russian Embassy in London responded tweeting of a picture of a duck with the word LAME written across the bottom.
President Obama expels 35 ?? diplomats in Cold War deja vu. As everybody, incl ?? people, will be glad to see the last of this hapless Adm. pic.twitter.com/mleqA16H8D
— Russian Embassy, UK (@RussianEmbassy) 29 dicembre 2016
(Security Affairs – President Obama Executive Order, Russia)