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Gov’t Aims to Prevent Cyberattacks With Economic Sanctions

WASHINGTON, D.C. — For the first time, the U.S. government can use economic sanctions to help thwart cyberattacks.

President Barack Obama signed an executive order Wednesday allowing the U.S. Treasury Department to freeze the assets of overseas individuals and entities considered to be the source of cybercrimes, reported Bloomberg. In addition, the federal government can bar U.S. citizens and companies from doing business with those targeted for sanctions.

“Cyberthreats pose one of the most serious economic and national security challenges to the United States,” Obama said in a statement. “As we have seen in recent months, these threats can emanate from a range of sources and target our critical infrastructure, our companies and our citizens.”

Under the executive order, sanctions will only be used if a cyberattack threatens to harm U.S. national security, foreign policy or the broader economy, the news outlet reported.

Obama first talked about beefing up cybersecurity measures in his January 2015 State of the Union Address. At that time, he discussed a proposal called The Personal Data Notification & Protection Act. It clarifies and strengthens the obligations companies have to notify customers when their personal information has been exposed, including establishing a 30-day notification requirement from the discovery of a breach, while providing companies with the certainty of a single, national standard.

There have been several high-profile data breaches in the last several months. Target Corp., Home Depot Inc. and Anthem Inc. were among the biggest cyberattack targets.

In the convenience store industry, Brentwood-Tenn.-based MAPCO Express Inc. experienced a data breach in 2013.

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