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Actions taken by Obama in response to Russian hacking

Associated Press logo Associated Press 30/12/2016

WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama has slapped harsh sanctions on the Russian intelligence services, blamed for both the hacking that disrupted the U.S. presidential election and harassment of U.S. diplomats working in Russia.

The U.S. also released a detailed report exposing Russia's hacking infrastructure in an effort to help computer specialists prevent more cyberattacks. Obama said more action was coming in response to hacking that "could only have been directed by the highest levels of the Russian government."

Here are the actions Obama took Thursday:

SANCTIONS FOR HACKING

Obama sanctioned two Russian intelligence services, the GRU and the FSB, plus companies which the U.S. says support the GRU. The cybersecurity firm hired by the Democratic National Committee to investigate theft of its emails determined earlier this year the hacking came from the Fancy Bear group, believed to be affiliated with the GRU, the Russian military intelligence agency. The FSB is the main successor to the Soviet-era KGB.

The president also sanctioned GRU chief Igor Korobov and three of his deputies.

Separately, the Treasury Department sanctioned Alexsey Belan and Yevgeny Bogachev, two Russian nationals who have been wanted by the FBI for cybercrimes for years.

RETALIATION FOR HARASSMENT

In response to what Obama described as the aggressive harassment of U.S. diplomats in Russia over the past two years by security personnel and police, the State Department expelled 35 Russian diplomats from the embassy in Washington and the consulate in San Francisco. The Russians, who Obama said were intelligence operatives, were declared "persona non grata" and given 72 hours to leave the country.

The State Department also closed down two compounds the Russian government owns, with access cut off as of noon Friday. One is on the eastern shore of Maryland and the other on Long Island, New York. The U.S. said the recreational facilities were being used for intelligence activities.

EXPOSING RUSSIAN CYBER ACTIVITY

The Department of Homeland Security and the FBI released a report detailing Russia's cyber interference. The report includes information on computers around the world that Russian intelligence services have secretly co-opted; data that can be used to identify malware used by the Russian intelligence services; and information on how Russian intelligence services typically conduct their activities.

The stated aim was to help computer specialists detect Russian intrusions and block any new attacks.

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