US can now target foreigners engaging in cyberattacks

1 Apr 2015

US President Barack Obama

From now on, the US can target individuals engaging in cyberattacks against America from abroad, according to US President Barack Obama, citing a new law.

The executive order passed by Obama is, according to his post on Medium about the ruling, to ensure the future national security of those in the US, particularly when it comes to their financial institutions and energy grid.

Talking of threats from China, Russia, Iran and North Korea by name, Obama says their government is now using every tool at their disposal through diplomacy and law enforcement with the help of other nations to allow a person engaging in cyber-attacks against the US to be effectively removed from the picture digitally.

Speaking of some of these potential courses of retribution, Obama says they could include freezing a person’s assets once they have been located, prevent them from having any dealing with US companies as well as the relatively vague threat of limiting “their ability to profit from their misdeeds.”

Promising that those unwittingly hacked and those engaging in cyber-security will not be affected by such sanctions, Obama also said that all of this is part of keeping the internet “open and free”.

Obama concluded his post by saying, “As Americans, our security, prosperity, and privacy in the 21st century will depend on our ability to learn, innovate, build, and do business online — and to do it safely, knowing that our sensitive or personal information will be protected.

“As of today, the US has a new tool to protect our nation, our companies, and our citizens — and in the days and years ahead, we will use it.”

Obama image via Joe Crimmings/Flickr

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic