North Korean, Russian hackers take hits

The Trump administration on Tuesday announced new sanctions against a host of Russian and Chinese entities that provide support to North Korea’s government, as the reclusive regime once again ratchets up its inflammatory rhetoric.

While the penalties are targeted at 16 individuals and companies aiding Pyongyang’s nuclear and missile programs, some see the move as part of a broader strategy to curb North Korea’s rapidly emerging digital crime operations.

The House version of the annual defense policy bill — which the full chamber approved last month — included an amendment from Rep. Robert Pittenger that would prevent the Defense Department from doing business with telecommunications firms that provide essential services to North Korea or are complicit in cyberattacks launched by the boxed-in regime. On Monday, Pittenger said the administration’s step expands on his legislation. “President Trump’s decisive action, coupled with my legislation to further punish businesses which support North Korean cyberattacks, sends a strong message,” the North Carolina Republican said in a statement. “If you support the brutal North Korean regime, there will be a punitive response from the United States.”

TAKING AIM AT NATION-STATE HACKERS, PART II — Microsoft won another round in court Tuesday against the Russian government-affiliated hacking group known as Fancy Bear. The default judgment awarded by the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia is the latest step in a long fight where Microsoft is taking control of Fancy Bear domains, hijacking the group’s “command and control” servers that allow the hackers to communicate with malware it has installed. Under the latest order, Fancy Bear is permanently enjoined from future attacks against Microsoft customers. The court also enjoined Fancy Bear from “configuring, deploying, operating or otherwise participating in or facilitating a command and control infrastructure, or any component or element of the command and control infrastructure at any location.”

HAPPY WEDNESDAY and welcome to Morning Cybersecurity! White House cyber czar Rob Joyce loves him some CyberDawgs. Send your thoughts, feedback and especially tips to tstarks@politico.com, and be sure to follow @timstarks, @POLITICOPro, and @MorningCybersec. Full team info below.


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