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A new executive order by the White House targets individuals and groups outside the U.S. who are responsible for cyber attacks. While hackers and other cyber criminals within American borders can be dealt with by law enforcement, for those located in other countries there has been very little authorities can do to bring them to justice. The Obama Administration is going to bring tough sanctions to bear on cyber attackers as tool to punish and deter such harmful actions.

Under this executive order, cyber attackers can be added to the official sanction list. Companies and individuals who end up on the list will be barred from doing business with U.S. companies, and any property they own within the U.S.could be seized. Companies can be added to the list for activities like disrupting computer networks or knowingly using stolen trade secrets. Even DDoS attacks, which temporarily take down sites by flooding them with too much traffic, could get a person or organization put on the sanctions list.

So far, there is no timeline for determining initial targets of the sanctions. There are still many unknown details regarding administration’s strategy, including the definitions that would govern the implementation of the sanctions. Even after these detail are worked out, it could take some time before the sanction targets feel any serious effects. Cyber expert James Lewis warns that it could take years for the penalties to take hold.

Some experts have expressed skepticism regarding the sanctions. They cite the difficulty of identifying hackers, as well as the large amount of state sponsored cyber attacks. Other have raised concerns that executive order is too broad and will pose great difficulty for companies to comply with its provisions. Despite these difficulties, the executive order may still have some impact on the rapidly growing threat of cyber attacks. At least its a step in the right direction, if not a perfect solution.

Do you think this executive order will have any impact on the cyber threats being directed at U.S. companies and infrastructure? Leave your comments below.

Max Michael

Senior Writer

I’m a technology reporter located near the Innovation District of Kitchener-Waterloo, Ontario.