President Barack Obama signed an executive order Wednesday allowing the use of economic sanctions for the first time against perpetrators of destructive cyberattacks and online corporate espionage.
That will let the Treasury Department freeze the assets of people, companies or other entities overseas identified as the source of cybercrimes. The federal government also will be able to bar U.S. citizens and companies from doing business with those targeted for sanctions.
"Cyberthreats pose one of the most serious economic and national security challenges to the United States," Obama said in a statement. "As we have seen in recent months, these threats can emanate from a range of sources and target our critical infrastructure, our companies and our citizens."
Under the order, sanctions will be used only if a cyberattack threatens to harm U.S. national security, foreign policy or the broader economy. It's aimed at cybercriminals who target critical infrastructure, disrupt major computer networks or are involved in the "significant" theft of trade secrets or intellectual property for competitive advantage or private financial gain.
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