European Union Sanctions Cyber Attackers

For the first time the European Union has collectivley decided to impose restrictive measures against six individuals and three entities responsible for or involved in various cyber attacks. The EU targets, including two citizens from China and four from Russia, as well as three organisations, one each from China, North Korea and Russia.  

The attempted cyberattack were against the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons and those publicly known as 'WannaCry', 'NotPetya', and 'Operation Cloud Hopper'. The sanctions imposed include a travel ban and an asset freeze. In addition, EU persons and entities are forbidden from making funds available to those listed. 

Sanctions are one of the options available to the EU to  respond to malicious cyber activities directed against the EU or its member states, and this is the first time the EU has used this tool. The legal framework for targeted restrictive measures against cyber-attacks was adopted in May 2019 and recently renewed.
Background

The EU has scaled up its resilience and its ability to respond to cyber threats and malicious cyber activities in order to safeguard European security and interests.

In June 2017, the EU stepped up its response by establishing a Framework for a Joint EU Diplomatic Response to Malicious Cyber Activities (the "cyber diplomacy toolbox"). The framework allows the EU and its member states to use all CFSP measures, including restrictive measures if necessary, to prevent, discourage, deter and respond to malicious cyber activities targeting the integrity and security of the EU and its member states. 

Targeted restrictive measures have a deterrent and dissuasive effect and should be distinguished from attribution of responsibility to a third state.

Among those falling under the sanctions are four Russian nationals and the Main Center for Special Technologies that as the EU claims is part of the Main Directorate of the General Staff of the Russian Armed Forces. According to the Russian Foreign Ministry, Moscow has repeatedly warned the European Union against the practice of unilateral sanctions, which "are absolutely illegitimate from the point of view of international law." 

The Russian statement invites the European Union to step up a professional dialogue on problems in the information sphere or to use the existing United Nations and OSCE channels and mechanisms, saying “There is no avoiding a conclusion that the European Union prefers the policy of unilateral pressure and restrictions to a serious conversation aiming at settling differences and enhancing mutual trust."  

Consilium:       TASS:       Bloomberg Law:       CGTN:  

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