Today, June 11, the U.S. Department of the Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) designated five Russian entities and three Russian individuals under Executive Order (E.O.) 13694, "Blocking the Property of Certain Persons Engaging in Significant Malicious Cyber-Enabled Activities", as amended, and Section 224 of the Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA).
The sanctions freeze property and assets under United States jurisdiction and seek to lock those named out of global financial networks.
It says in a short note announcing the sanctions expansion that "as of 2015, Digital Security worked on a project that would increase Russia's offensive cyber capabilities for the Russian Intelligence Services, to include the FSB".
It said Divetechnoservices had procured a variety of underwater equipment and diving systems, including a submarine, for Russian government agencies.
According to the Treasury Department, "Russia has been active in tracking undersea communication cables" which carry global telecommunications data.
The two other Russia-based companies are Kvant Scientific Research Institute and Divetechnoservices.
The sanctioned individuals were Vladimir Kagansky, Alexander Tribun and Oleg Chirikov, whom Mnuchin identified as the owner of Divetechnoservices, the company's CEO and a manager at the company, respectively. The author has made every effort to ensure accuracy of information provided; however, neither Kitco Metals Inc. nor the author can guarantee such accuracy. In detailing the fresh sanctions, the announcement specifically pointed to attacks on the U.S. power grid and the 2017 NotPetya that targeted Ukraine and other parts of the world as examples of Russian cyberattacks.
The United States imposed new sanctions against Russian companies and individuals in connection with the "cyber threat from organizations working at the direction of Moscow".
Since the USA intelligence community released its conclusion in January 2017 that Moscow had engaged in a hacking-and-propaganda campaign during the 2016 presidential election, US authorities have stepped up efforts to punish cybercompanies who have allegedly worked with Russian security agencies.
"Some of our research team were former members of Digital Security", Donald Anderson, the company's head of marketing, told i24NEWS when reached by phone.
"Later on, my university buddy invited me to work for the Digital Security company, which was the place where the best hackers from our city were working, and probably the first Russian company which was focused on what we call penetration tests now".