Obama extends cyber sanctions power

President Barack Obama on Tuesday expanded upon his statement that the rising number of cyberattacks on the U.S. constitutes a national emergency.

“These significant malicious cyber-enabled activities continue to pose an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security, foreign policy and economy of the United States,” Obama wrote in a notice.

{mosads}The president initially made the declaration on April 1, 2015, as part of an executive order that empowered the Treasury Department to levy sanctions on individuals or entities behind cyberattacks and cyber espionage.

The move was an attempt to impose costs on foreign hackers who have peppered the U.S. with cyberattacks for years with few repercussions.

The sanctions would effectively freeze targets’s assets when they pass through the U.S. financial system and prohibit them from transacting with American companies.

Obama said Treasury would retain these powers for at least another year, given the pervasive cyber threat that remains.

“The measures adopted on that date to deal with that emergency, must continue in effect beyond April 1, 2016,” he said.

The White House has yet to exercise these powers, although some believe the administration may follow up the recent indictment of seven Iranian hackers with targeted sanctions.

Prior to the executive action, the White House did slap North Korea with a round of economic sanctions after blaming the reclusive East Asian country for orchestrating a digital assault on the movie studio Sony Pictures Entertainment.

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