The U.S. Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) announced sanctions in coordination with the U.K. on Dec. 7 against two Russian nationals for their role in a wide-ranging cyber campaign against the U.S., U.K., and other Western countries.
The two individuals named were Ruslan Peretyatko, an officer with Russia's Federal Security Service (FSB), and Andrey Korinets, an IT worker.
Russia has been repeatedly accused of backing cyber-crime groups in attacks against its rivals. Moscow has also deployed its cyber capabilities against Ukraine, including attacks on government institutions, the defense sector, and energy infrastructure.
OFAC's sanctions came in conjunction with an announcement from the British National Cyber Security Center (NCSC) on Dec. 7 accusing the FSB of a lengthy campaign of cyber attacks against the U.K. dating back at least to 2015 and involving "attempted political interference."
The NCSC identified a group of hackers named Star Blizzard, which it said is "almost certainly subordinate to...(the FSB)."
Star Blizzard's cyber activities included phishing attacks on U.K. lawmakers, leaking of secret U.K.-U.S. trade documents, and hacking into the accounts of institutions and individuals from the U.K.'s civil society.
The U.K. also announced sanctions against Peretyatko and Korinets, which the U.S. joined as a sign of "support" and "solidarity."
The OFAC's description of the cyber actions of the FSB and its affiliates largely mirrored that of the NCSC.
"The FSB’s phishing campaigns have been designed to gain access to targeted email accounts, to maintain persistent access to the accounts and associated networks, and to obtain and potentially exfiltrate sensitive information to advance the Kremlin’s policy goals."
The OFAC added that evidence of FSB-sponsored phishing campaigns against the West can be traced to as early as 2016.
In addition to the sanctions, a federal grand jury in California indicted Peretyatko and Korinets on charges of conspiracy to commit computer fraud against the U.S.
“The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) will not stand idly by as Russia continues to perpetuate this type of targeted malicious activity,” said Assistant Director Bryan Vorndran of the FBI’s Cyber Division. “Russian interference through malign foreign influence campaigns is deplorable, and we will not tolerate it in the United States or directed against our foreign partners."