US sanctions Russian firms for roles in cyberattacks, underwater espionage

US sanctions Russian firms for roles in cyberattacks, underwater espionage

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WASHINGTON — The U.S. has applied new sanctions against five Russian firms for helping their country’s intelligence agency, the Federal Security Service (FSB), carry out cyberattacks and underwater espionage, the U.S. Treasury Department announced Monday.

“The United States is 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,” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in a statement. “The entities designated today have directly contributed to improving Russia’s cyber and underwater capabilities through their work with the FSB and therefore jeopardize the safety and security of the United States and our allies.”

In response to cyberthreats, the sanctions were applied to the firm Digital Security and two of its subsidiaries for allegedly helping Russia improve its offensive capabilities in the cyber realm.

Kvant Scientific Research Institute (Kvant), which is controlled by FSB, was named as well.

The Treasury Department said the decision was rooted in last year’s NotPetya ransomware attack as well as efforts to tap into the U.S. energy grid and network infrastructure devices across the world.

Divetechnoservices, which describes itself as a firm that provides “professional diving equipment and technical support of diving job, wrecking and underwater works, deck equipment and tooling,” also was named, as were three of its top executives.

According to the the U.S., “Russia has been active in tracking undersea communication cables, which carry the bulk of the world’s telecommunications data.”

The sanctions come two months after the U.S. announced similar measures aimed at Russian meddling in political situations across the globe.

The full list of Monday’s designates can be read here.

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