Obama calls cyber-attacks a 'national emergency'

On Wednesday, US President, Barak Obama, announced a new sanctions programme targeting groups and individuals that use internet technology and cyber-attacks to threaten US foreign policy, national security, or economic stability.

In an executive order deeming such activities a “national emergency,” the administration was given the same sanction tools used against other threats, currently in action in the Middle East and Russia. Referring to the “growing epidemic of cyber-threats aimed at US computer networks,” according to online news sources, the Obama administration seeks to bolster its response to hacking and hopes that US allies will be following suit.

“President Obama's latest executive order ‘Blocking the Property of Certain Persons Engaging in Significant Malicious Cyber-Enabled Activities' makes good, common sense,” Bob West, chief trust officer at CipherCloud, commented in an email to SCMagazineUK.com. “It goes towards what is commercially responsible and draws a line in the sand. If we can discover who the people or groups are behind cyber-attacks, we now have the legal right to take action.”

Corey Thomas, president & CEO of Rapid7, echoed his sentiment, adding: “We particularly applaud the thresholds for harm. It's key that acts must both cause significant negative impact, for example to national security or economic health, AND that this must manifest through specifically identified acts, such as the widespread theft of trade secrets, or disruption of the availability of computing systems.”

“It's also critical,” Thomas noted to SCMagazineUK.com, “that the Department of Treasury has stated that it doesn't intend to pursue security researchers under this order.”
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