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U.S. considering sanctioning Russia and China over hacking

The United States is said to be considering applying sanctions to both Russia and Chinese individuals and companies for conducting aggressive hacking attempts against U.S. targets, according to several unnamed U.S. officials. While no decision has been made one way or another just yet, they claim that the Obama administration had taken note of recent hacks, but was wary of sanctions as it could further strain relationships with Russia.

The sorts of sanctions being considered would essentially cut such companies and individuals off from using United States financial institutions, which would make trading in the country impossible and may even freeze assets stored there.

While the sources being cited by Reuters remain anonymous – so any claims should be considered with a side order of salt – they come at an interesting time. With plans for a visit to the U.S. by Chinese president Xi Jingping in September, any sanctions placed on China would make it a more strained visit than it otherwise might be.

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Another official stated that the outcome of the visit may determine whether Obama gives the go ahead for sanctions to be applied.

China has always been straight faced with its statements on hacking, claiming that it vigorously upholds international treaties on digital espionage. However when accused of hacking attacks against the U.S. it has responded in kind, suggesting that America is one of the world’s biggest culprits for attacking digital defences. The revelations over NSA data gathering and malware injection backup such claims.

However it is the Russian sanctions which have the potential to do more harm according to some. The relationship between the U.S. and Putin’s Russia has been more strained in recent years, especially following the annexation of the Crimea and ongoing problems on the Ukranian border.

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KitGuru Says: I think it’s safe to say that just about everyone is hacking everyone else at this point. If the U.S. is bugging the phones of its allies, we can only imagine what it’s doing to nations like Russia and China. They’re probably doing the same, but while that may be obvious, can we expect countries not to have some sort of response for their digital assets being invaded?

Image source: Wikimedia

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