Obama Announces Executive Order Against Hackers

By on April 1, 2015


Obama Announces Executive Order  Against Hackers

The POTUS, Barack Obama announced there would be an executive action Wednesday that allows the Treasury Department to impose financial sanctions against cyber hackers who impose a significant threat to national security.


“This Executive Order authorizes the Secretary of the Treasury, in consultation with the Attorney General and the Secretary of State, to impose sanctions on individuals or entities that engage in malicious cyber-enabled activities that create a significant threat to the national security, foreign policy, or economic health or financial stability of the United States,” Obama said in a statement announcing Wednesday’s executive order.


The response comes after November’s cyberattack on Sony Pictures that the FBI blamed on North Korea. At the time Obama felt that private companies bowing to intimidation from cyber hackers would set a bad precedence and he questioned Sony’s decision to pull its movie “The Interview.”


Recently, in January, the White House leveled financial sanctions against officials within the North Korean government as part of what Obama called a “proportional response” to the Sony hacking.


In a call with reporters White House Cybersecurity coordinator Michael Daniel said the process of drafting these sanctions highlighted the need for more direct authority to target individuals engaged in cyber attacks.

“This allows us to have an executive order that focuses directly on the activities of concern whether they arise in North Korea or another jurisdiction,” Daniel said. “Obviously cyber incidents tend to flow very easily across international boundaries, so trying to tie that to a particular location just didn’t make sense.

  • “We will use this tool in a targeted and coordinated way against the worst of the worst,
  • the most serious overseas malicious actors,” Daniel said.

In a statement Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew added that the order allows for the department “to expose and financially isolate those who hide in the shadows of the Internet.”

Along with the ability to hand down sanctions, Obama said his administration will also make use of existing authorities including diplomatic engagement, trade policy tools, and law enforcement mechanisms in countering threats.