(Reuters) – The United States took a new stance in Russia's cyber security industry on Friday, restricting trade with four information technology companies and two other entities over "aggressive and harmful" activities – including digital espionage – that Washington blames on Russia
Dividend from a trade department said the six units were sanctioned by the US Treasury Department in April, targeting technology companies that support Russian intelligence services.
Their addition to the Department of Commerce's blacklist means that U.S. companies cannot sell to them without licenses, which are rarely granted.
The announcement follows April's sanctions aimed at punishing Moscow for hacking, intervening in last year's US elections, poisoning Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny and other alleged malicious acts ̵
They come when the United States responds to a drumbeat of digital int shakers blamed Russian government-backed spies and a series of increasingly disruptive ransomware outbreaks blamed on Russian cybercriminals.
The units added to the blacklist are Aktsionernoe Obshchaestvo AST; Aktsionernoe Obshchestvo Pasit; Aktsionernoe Obshchestvo Pozitiv Teknolodzhiz, also known as JSC Positive Technologies; Federal State Autonomous Institution Military Innovative Technopolis Era; Federal State Autonomous Scientific Establishment Scientific Research Institute Specialized Security Computing Devices and Automation (SVA); and Obshchestvo S Ogranichennoi Otvetstvennostyu Neobit.
Era is a research center and technology park run by the Russian Ministry of Defense; Pasit is an IT company that researched and developed in support of Russia's foreign intelligence service's harmful cyber activities; SVA is a Russian state institution that also supported malicious cyber activities. and Russia-based IT security companies Neobit, AST and Positive Technologies have customers that include the Russian government, according to the United States.
Positive Technologies stated that the Department of Commerce's announcement had no new information and that the company was engaged in the "ethical exchange of information with the professional information security community" and had never been involved in an attack on US infrastructure.
The other entities either did not respond immediately to requests for comment or could not be reached.
The restrictions on the Russian technology industry have been in place for several months. On the same day as the Ministry of Finance's sanctions were announced, then-Deputy Justice Minister John Demers told reporters that officials were in the process of evaluating dozens of Russian companies for possible referral to the Commerce Department.
Mr. Demers said investigators would look at "a known link between a particular company and the Russian intelligence services" when evaluating whether a company was a risk. Non-Russian companies that had back office operations in Russia would also be investigated, he said.
The United States adds units to the Department of Commerce's trade list that they say pose a risk to U.S. national security or foreign policy interests. 19659002]