Citing cybercrime, Obama unloads sanctions on North Korea

The United States is laying down additional economic sanctions on North Korea courtesy of an executive order issued by President Obama on Friday. The sanctions come in response to the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation’s decision to blame North Korea for the colossal hack against Sony Pictures Entertainment.

As part of the executive order, the U.S. Department of the Treasury singled out three North Korean entities, including the North Korean intelligence agency known as the Reconnaissance General Bureau, and ten individuals as “being agencies or officials of the North Korean government,” according to a U.S. Department of the Treasury announcement on the sanctions.

Among the ten individuals the Treasure Department lists are several North Korean government officials who represent the Korea Mining Development Trading Corporation, North Korea’s arms dealer, in countries including Iran, Russia and Syria.

“Today’s actions are driven by our commitment to hold North Korea accountable for its destructive and destabilizing conduct,” said Secretary of the Treasury Jacob J. Lew in the announcement.

The sanctions are the latest to hit North Korea, whose rogue behavior (on nuclear testing, for example) has earned multiple economic sanctions from the U.S. (and other countries) in recent years.

What makes these new sanctions stand out is the fact that they are attributed to North Korea’s alleged large-scale data breach as opposed to more common reasons for economic sanctions like human rights violations or war crimes.

While the U.S. has been gung-ho in saying North Korea is to blame for devastating [company]Sony[/company], several security experts have been disputing the FBI’s claims. The FBI has reportedly been meeting with security companies to discuss the possibility that North Korea was not responsible, but apparently the bureau has not been swayed with what it’s hearing.

The Daily Beast reported that security firm Norse Corp. recently presented to the FBI its own findings into the Sony hack that supposedly debunked claims that North Korea helmed the attack; the FBI apparently waved it off.

“They basically said thanks a lot and shook our hands and took off,” Kurt Stammberger, a Norse senior vice president, told The Daily Beast.