The United Kingdom (U.K.) and the United States have taken coordinated action against seven Russian nationals they have determined were active in conducting cyberattacks in both countries. The U.K. secretary of state designated these individuals under the Cyber (Sanctions) (EU Exit) Regulations 2020 and added them to the U.K. Sanctions List. The Russian nationals became the subject of the sanctions after they were identified as being “associated with the development or deployment of a range of ransomware strains which have targeted the UK and US.” Specifically, the government has determined the individuals are
responsible for, engaging in, providing support for, or promoting the commission, planning or preparation of relevant cyber activity; and providing technical assistance that could contribute to relevant cyber activity, namely ransomware attacks which were intended to undermine the integrity, prosperity and security of the United Kingdom and other countries, and were intended to cause economic loss to, or prejudice the commercial interests of, those companies affected by the activity.
The sanctions are made under the provisions of the Cyber (Sanctions) (EU Exit) Regulations 2020, which established a sanctions regime under the Sanctions and Anti-Money Laundering Act 2018 to prevent cyber activity that
b) directly or indirectly causes, or is intended to cause, economic loss to, or prejudice to the commercial interests of, those affected by the activity,
c) undermines, or is intended to undermine, the independence or effective functioning of—
(i) an international organisation, or
(ii) a non-governmental organisation or forum whose mandate or purposes relate to the governance of international sport or the Internet, or
Ransomware attacks have become more common across the U.K. and are currently considered to be a Tier 1 national security threat. To help educate and inform the public about ransomware and the impact of the new sanctions, the U.K.’s Office of Financial Sanctions Implementation has published new guidance on Ransomware and Sanctions.
Clare Feikert-Ahalt, Law Library of Congress
March 8, 2023
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