The U.S. government has announced additional sanctions on North Korea as a result of the cyber-attack on Sony Pictures.
The sanctions are the first official U.S. response to the attack, for which the investigation continues but North Korea has already been named responsible by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
In announcing the measures, President Obama said they were being imposed for “the provocative, destabilizing, and repressive actions and policies of the Government of North Korea, including its destructive, coercive cyber-related actions during November and December 2014, actions in violation of UNSCRs 1718, 1874, 2087, and 2094, and commission of serious human rights abuses.”
The sanctions take a swipe at one entity believed to be related to North Korea’s cyber capability: the Reconnaissance General Bureau (RGB), which is also known as Unit 586.
The RGB is a division of the Ministry of People’s Armed Forces that is believed to handle much of North Korea’s traditional and cyber espionage activities. Under it sit Office 91, reportedly the headquarters of North Korea’s cyber hacking force, and Unit 121, which is thought to contain most of the country’s hackers and has bases at home and overseas.
And the sanctions also take aim at North Korea’s conventional weapons of mass destruction program, targeting the Korea Mining Development Trading Corporation (KOMID) and Korea Tangun Trading Corporation. The sanctions announcement also names 10 individuals, eight of whom are related to KOMID, one who is related to the trading company and a final person, Yu Kwang Ho, who is only referred to as “an official of the North Korean government.”
The organizations have all been named in previous rounds of sanctions so the latest action by the U.S. government appears to be more symbolic than anything else.
“This step reflects the ongoing commitment of the United States to hold North Korea accountable for its destabilizing, destructive and repressive actions, particularly its efforts to undermine U.S. cyber-security and intimidate U.S. businesses and artists exercising their right of freedom of speech,” the White House said in a statement.