President Obama has shown his strong arm once again, pressing additional sanctions on North Korea in response to their cyber attack on Sony Pictures.
The sanctions will target 10 North Korean government officials and three organizations; North Korea's intelligence agency, their state-run arms dealer and a defense research corporation.
“We take seriously North Korea’s attack that aimed to create destructive financial effects on a U.S. company and to threaten artists and other individuals with the goal of restricting their right to free expression,” White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said in a statement Friday.
While the response is only “proportional,” the sanctions will prohibit any financial transactions or immigration with the U.S. for anyone associated with the North Korean regime.
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North Korea is already being heavily sanctioned by the United States and the international community for its nuclear programs.
President Obama's administration has been adamant that North Korea is behind the attacks, yet the Pyongyang government has denied any involvement.
The North Korean foreign ministry responded to the new sanctions.
“The persistent and unilateral action taken by the White House to slap ‘sanctions’ against the DPRK patently proves that it is still not away from inveterate repugnancy and hostility towards the DPRK,” said the foreign ministry.
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The cyber community has also doubted North Korean involvement, citing an alternate version of attack. A Guardian article explains that some security experts believe six former employees of Sony could have compromised the networks and possibly released or sold the information out of revenge.
Others question how the FBI could have concluded so quickly that North Korea was responsible, as the evidence was “circumstantial at best.” Some experts think North Korea couldn't have been responsible, as they do not have the cyber capability for an attack of this magnitude.
Regardless of whether North Korea is responsible or not, the White House has sent a message to the world that cyber attacks will not be tolerated, as it was the first time the U.S. imposed sanctions on another country for hacking an American company.