Russian news agencies reported [CBS News report] Wednesday that three Federal Security Service (FSB) officials and one executive from the Kaspersky Labs cyber security company have been charged with treason. Two of the FSB officials have been identified as Sergei Mikhailov and Dmitry Dokuchayev. The Kaspersky Labs executive has been identified as Ruslan Stoyanov. Mikhailov is accused of being the leader of a covert hacking group called “Humpty Dumpty.” All the defendants are accused of giving US intelligence services Russian state secrets. The Kremlin Spokesperson, Dimitry Peskov, has stated that the arrests are not related to any hacking of the US democratic institutions during the recent US election, which Russia has previously denied any involvement.
The White House announced [JURIST report] in December that they would be enacting sanctions against Russia due to Russia’s alleged interference with the US presidential election. The sanctions included [White House press release] the FSB. The issue of cybersecurity has been adressed several times by the White House under the Obama administration. In 2015 the White House imposed sanctions [JURIST report] and higher penalties on foreign security threats. The Obama administration also urged Congress to pass stricter cyber security laws, and in 2013 an official from the Obama administration testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee [official website] to urge Congress to amend [JURIST report] the Freedom of Information Act in order to strengthen the government’s ability to prevent disclosure of information related to critical infrastructure and cybersecurity. An interesting question is, what the US can do about Russian hacking, if the US has jurisdiction [JURIST commentary] over hacking executed from outside the US.