The European Union has, for the first time ever, slapped sanctions on hacking crews.
The EU's Council of Ministers has cracked down on six individuals and three companies in China, North Korea, and Russia for breaking into computer networks, stealing information, and spreading malware.
"Sanctions are one of the options available in the EU’s cyber diplomacy toolbox to prevent, deter and respond to malicious cyber activities directed against the EU or its member states, and today is the first time the EU has used this tool," the EU said of the decision. "The legal framework for targeted restrictive measures against cyber-attacks was adopted in May 2019 and recently renewed."
The sanctions will take the form of asset freezes and travel bans, as well as blocks on any EU person or company doing business with any of those listed. Many of those sanctioned already face charges or restrictions in other countries, such as America.
One group on the receiving end of Europe's ire is the miscreants behind Operation Cloud Hopper. As the name suggests, this gang hacked cloud providers who were hosting systems for European companies, and in some cases made off with those customers' intellectual property and trade secrets, mainly in the defense and aerospace sectors. IBM and HPE were said to be among Cloud Hopper's victims.