Feds Takes Action Against Russian Firms for Spying

The U.S. Department of the Treasury has issued sanctions against Russia and a handful of Russian organizations, including security solutions firm Positive Technologies, for spying and other cyberactivities.

Update 4/16: Positive Technologies today issued a statement denying "the groundless accusations made by the U.S. Department of the Treasury" concerning its alleged support of Russian intelligence agencies. The company pointed to its long-time role of responsibly disclosing software vulnerabilities:

We are known to the global cybersecurity community as visionaries and leaders in ethical security research. Our researchers detect hundreds of zero-day vulnerabilities per year in IT systems of various classes and types. All of the vulnerabilities found, without exception, are provided to the software manufacturers as part of the responsible disclosure policy and are not made public until the necessary updates are released.

Positive Technologies is a partner with IBM, Microsoft and VMware, among others. Microsoft told The Seattle Times that it "would comply with the sanctions."

The sanctions, which are based on President Biden's Executive Order announced Thursday, impose prohibitions on U.S. financial companies from buying Russian bonds or lending money to the Russian government, among other measures.

The Treasury Department's announcement specified the organizations that are subject to the U.S. sanctions. The following organizations are getting sanctions:

  • ERA Technopolis;
  • Pasit, AO (Pasit);
  • Federal State Autonomous Scientific Establishment Scientific Research Institute Specialized Security Computing Devices and Automation (SVA);
  • Neobit, OOO (Neobit);
  • Advanced System Technology, AO (AST); and
  • Pozitiv Teknolodzhiz, AO (Positive Technologies).

The sanctions are being imposed because those companies operated in the "technology sector of the Russian Federation economy" and provided support for "Russian intelligence services," according to the announcement.

Some of the organizations are research institutions, such as ERA Technopolis and SVA. Others, such as Pasit, Neobit, AST and Positive Technologies, are companies that provide IT and security solutions.

The Treasury Department plans to block these organizations' and companies' use of property within the United States as part of the sanctions. It will also block any entities that are "50 percent or more" owned by "one or more blocked persons." The announcement didn't identify the persons who are deemed to be blocked.

The sanctions imply that software and services purchases from those companies are enjoined within the United States. They "generally prohibit all transactions by U.S. persons or within (or transiting) the United States," according to the announcement.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for 1105 Media's Converge360 group.