EU sanctions China, Russia, and North Korea for past hacks

The EU has imposed today its first-ever economical sanctions following cyber-attacks from foreign adversaries.

EU GDPR data bits and bytes wave ripples

European Union bits and bytes in ripple waving pattern with glowing EU stars

Getty Images/iStockphoto

The European Union has imposed sanctions today against China, Russia, and North Korea for past cyber-attacks carried out against European citizens and businesses.

In a ruling from the European Council, the EU has sanctioned:

  • China for "Operation Cloud Hopper" [PDF] -- a series of intrusions against cloud providers.
  • Russia for NotPetya -- a ransomware strain created and released by the Russian military in Ukraine, but which spread to all over the globe.
  • Russia for an attempted cyber-attack on the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) in the Netherlands. At the time, the Dutch government was investigating the crash of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 in Ukraine, brought down by a Russian missile.
  • North Korea for WannaCry -- a ransomware strain created by government hackers for the purpose of raising money for the regime, but which they lost control over.

The sanctions consist of a travel ban an asset freeze.

EU citizens and businesses are also prohibited from engaging in transactions with entities on the sanctions list, which includes six individuals and three companies:

  1. GAO Qiang (China)
  2. ZHANG Shilong (China)
  3. Alexey Valeryevich MININ (Russia)
  4. Aleksei Sergeyvich MORENETS (Russia)
  5. Evgenii Mikhaylovich SEREBRIAKOV (Russia)
  6. Oleg Mikhaylovich SOTNIKOV (Russia)
  1. Tianjin Huaying Haitai Science and Technology Development Co. Ltd (Huaying Haitai) (China)
  2. Chosun Expo (North Korea)
  3. Main Centre for Special Technologies (GTsST) of the Main Directorate of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation (GU/GRU) (Russia)

EU officials said the two Chinese citizens were members of APT10, the Chinese hacking group behind Operation Cloud Hopper, while the four Russians were four GRU agents involved in the attempted hack against the WiFi network of the OPCW.

The EU said these are the first sanctions it imposed due to other countries launching cybre-attacks against member countries.

The US has already sanctioned some of the same individuals for the same cyber-attacks, and Washington has heavily pressured its trans-Atlantic partner to impose similar measures.

Furthermore, Germany has also recently asked its European partners for similar sanctions against Russia for the 2014 German Parliament (Bundestag) hack.

In a response last month, Russia said the German government hasn't not bothered providing evidence of the hack, claiming Berlin was actually interested in imposing the sanctions rather than proving its case.