As reported in Bloomberg BNA, on April 1, 2015, the White House announced that President Obama has signed a new executive order providing the Secretary of the Treasury, in consultation with the Attorney General and the Secretary of State, the ability to impose sanctions on individuals and entities that engage in certain cyber-enabled activities. The signed executive order, entitled Blocking the Property of Certain Persons Engaging in Significant Malicious Cyber-Enabled Activities (the “Executive Order”), focuses on blocking the property or interests in property located in the United States of persons engaging in cyber-enabled activities that cause a significant threat to the national security, foreign policy, economic health or financial stability of the U.S. (collectively, the “Significant Threat”).

The Executive Order enables the Secretary of State to sanction any person who is responsible for, complicit in, or has engaged in cyber-enabled activities stemming from outside of the U.S. that have likely caused a Significant Threat and have the purpose or effect of:

  • harming, or significantly compromising the provision of services by, a computer or network that supports one or more entities in a critical infrastructure sector;
  • significantly compromising the provision of services by one or more entities in a critical infrastructure sector;
  • causing a significant disruption to the availability of a computer or network; or
  • causing a significant misappropriation of funds or economic resources, trade secrets, personal identifiers or financial information for commercial or competitive advantage or private financial gain.

In addition, the Executive Order empowers the Secretary of the Treasury, in consultation with the Attorney General and the Secretary of State, to sanction an individual or entity for attempting to engage in, or aiding and abetting, the activities described in the Executive Order, as well as for engaging in certain activities in connection with the misappropriation of trade secrets through cyber-enabled means.