US hits Russian firms with sanctions, citing cyberattacks

WASHINGTON-- The Trump administration on Monday slapped sanctions on several Russian companies and businessmen for engaging in cyberattacks and assisting Russia's military and intelligence services with other malicious activities.

The Treasury Department said it was imposing sanctions on five Russian firms and three of their executives under legislation passed last year and an executive order aimed at punishing efforts to hack into U.S. computer systems. The sanctions freeze any assets that those targeted may have in U.S. jurisdictions and bar Americans from doing business with them.

"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.

Treasury said the sanctions were a response to a number of cyberattacks, including last year's NotPetya attack, as well as intrusions into the U.S. energy grid and global network infrastructure. It also said that Russia had been tracking undersea cables that carry the bulk of the world's telecommunications data.

The companies affected are: Digital Security and its subsidiaries ERPScan and Embedi; the Kvant Scientific Research Institute; and Divetechnoservices. The three sanctioned men are Aleksandr Lvovich Tribun; Oleg Sergeyevich Chirikov; and Vladimir Yakovlevich Kaganskiy; all of whom work for Divetechnoservices.

Treasury said Digital Security had provided material and technological support to Russia's Federal Security Services, or FSB. It said Divetechnoservices had procured a variety of underwater equipment and diving systems, including a submarine, for Russian government agencies.