U.S. sanctions Russia and releases hacking report

The Obama administration announced a long-awaited response to Russia's election-related hacking, but many view it as too little too late.

Photo credit:  Ververidis Vasilis / Shutterstock.com
 

Russian President Vladimir Putin speaking in Greece in 2016. (Photo credit: Ververidis Vasilis / Shutterstock.com)

Lawmakers are giving the White House faint praise for its executive order imposing a mix of sanctions and expulsions in response to Russia's election-related hacking.

The long-awaited action, which included the sanctioning of two of Russia's intelligence agencies, four individuals and three companies involved in Russia's cyber operations, is being characterized as "too little, too late," by a number of senior GOP lawmakers.

"The retaliatory measures announced by the Obama Administration today are long overdue," said Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) in a joint statement.

"But ultimately," they added, "they are a small price for Russia to pay for its brazen attack on American democracy. We intend to lead the effort in the new Congress to impose stronger sanctions on Russia".

The executive action also included closing two Russian compounds in the U.S. and expelling 35 Russian intelligence officials – actions Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) called "half measures designed to appear tough."

"Sanctioning Russian entities associated with the intrusion of the DNC sounds bold, but it's unclear what the practical impact will be on organizations that likely don't have holdings in the United States," said Cotton.

The Kremlin has elected to ignore the diplomatic riposte. "Further steps towards the restoration of Russian-American relations will be built on the basis of the policies carried out by the administration of President Trump," a Russian official statement said.

President-elect Donald Trump praised Putin's show of restraint in a tweet issued Dec. 30.

"Great move on delay (by V. Putin) - I always knew he was very smart!" Trump tweeted.

Security hawks in both parties had been urging Obama for months to take decisive action to punish Russian President Vladimir Putin and deter Russia and other actors from conducting cyber attacks against the U.S.

"The actions the president took today are an important step, but preventing Russia from interfering in our elections will require a sustained response from the next administration and from Congress," said Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.);

"We are obligated to conduct a thorough, timely and bipartisan investigation in the 115th Congress with the goal of releasing as much information as possible, while protecting sources and methods so that the American people can understand exactly what happened and what could well happen again if we fail to respond appropriately," he added.

A senior administration official speaking to the press on background said that the publicly announced sanctions and expulsions "should not be mistaken for the sum total of our response."

"There may be things that commence while we're in office in addition to what we're saying today," the official added.

Another official defended the time it's taken for the response, given that the intelligence community officially attributed the hacking of Democratic Party servers and emails to Russia on Oct. 7.

"The process of putting together sanctions packages is extremely onerous and requires evidence that can stand up in court," said the official. "So this is a very intense, elaborate process with a lot of input from agencies across the board."

In taking the actions against Russia, President Obama added an amendment to Executive Order 13964 that originally outlined U.S. responses to significant malicious cyber incidents. The amendment specifically authorizes the U.S. to sanction or seize property of individuals suspected of trying to manipulate or undermine the election process.

In addition to the executive order and actions taken against Russia, the FBI and DHS also released a joint analysis report dubbed Grizzly Steppe -- Russian Malicious Cyber Activity" -- that provides more details and evidence of the hacking activities.

According to the analysis, two separate Russian intelligence agencies "participated in the intrusion" into Democratic party targets. One group, called Advanced Persistent Threat 29 in the report, launched attacks beginning in summer 2015. The second group, APT 28, attacked in spring 2016.

The APT 29 attack used malware to take over Democratic National Committee systems and steal email. The APT 28 hack went after specific users with malware that tricked them into changing their passwords via a platform known to the hackers. This is the attack that yielded the email trove of Hillary Clinton campaign chairman Jon Podesta.

The report states that actors associated with Russian intelligence are "continuing to engage in spearphishing campaigns, including one launched as recently as November 2016, just days after the U.S. election."

A senior official stated that in addition to the joint analysis report, the administration released "two malware samples that Russian intelligence services use to broadly conduct their malicious activities, and we've given those to antivirus vendors so that they can be used to help, again, both private sector and government folks defend their networks."

Administration officials urged private entities to review their systems and logs and provide any details they can to DHS.

"It helps to fill in the bigger picture, provides greater insight into the scope and scale of Russian activity, and helps all the network defenders," said the official.

NEXT STORY: Exit Interview: Trevor Rudolph

X
This website uses cookies to enhance user experience and to analyze performance and traffic on our website. We also share information about your use of our site with our social media, advertising and analytics partners. Learn More / Do Not Sell My Personal Information
Accept Cookies
X
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Do Not Sell My Personal Information

When you visit our website, we store cookies on your browser to collect information. The information collected might relate to you, your preferences or your device, and is mostly used to make the site work as you expect it to and to provide a more personalized web experience. However, you can choose not to allow certain types of cookies, which may impact your experience of the site and the services we are able to offer. Click on the different category headings to find out more and change our default settings according to your preference. You cannot opt-out of our First Party Strictly Necessary Cookies as they are deployed in order to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting the cookie banner and remembering your settings, to log into your account, to redirect you when you log out, etc.). For more information about the First and Third Party Cookies used please follow this link.

Allow All Cookies

Manage Consent Preferences

Strictly Necessary Cookies - Always Active

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data, Targeting & Social Media Cookies

Under the California Consumer Privacy Act, you have the right to opt-out of the sale of your personal information to third parties. These cookies collect information for analytics and to personalize your experience with targeted ads. You may exercise your right to opt out of the sale of personal information by using this toggle switch. If you opt out we will not be able to offer you personalised ads and will not hand over your personal information to any third parties. Additionally, you may contact our legal department for further clarification about your rights as a California consumer by using this Exercise My Rights link

If you have enabled privacy controls on your browser (such as a plugin), we have to take that as a valid request to opt-out. Therefore we would not be able to track your activity through the web. This may affect our ability to personalize ads according to your preferences.

Targeting cookies may be set through our site by our advertising partners. They may be used by those companies to build a profile of your interests and show you relevant adverts on other sites. They do not store directly personal information, but are based on uniquely identifying your browser and internet device. If you do not allow these cookies, you will experience less targeted advertising.

Social media cookies are set by a range of social media services that we have added to the site to enable you to share our content with your friends and networks. They are capable of tracking your browser across other sites and building up a profile of your interests. This may impact the content and messages you see on other websites you visit. If you do not allow these cookies you may not be able to use or see these sharing tools.

If you want to opt out of all of our lead reports and lists, please submit a privacy request at our Do Not Sell page.

Save Settings
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Cookie List

A cookie is a small piece of data (text file) that a website – when visited by a user – asks your browser to store on your device in order to remember information about you, such as your language preference or login information. Those cookies are set by us and called first-party cookies. We also use third-party cookies – which are cookies from a domain different than the domain of the website you are visiting – for our advertising and marketing efforts. More specifically, we use cookies and other tracking technologies for the following purposes:

Strictly Necessary Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Functional Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Performance Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Social Media Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Targeting Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.