The sanctions freeze any assets that those targeted may have in US jurisdictions and bar Americans from doing business with them.
The Treasury Department said it was imposing sanctions on five Russian firms and three of their executives under legislation passed a year ago and an executive order aimed at punishing efforts to hack into US computer systems.
In the June 11 announcement, the Treasury named a St. Petersburg-based company called Digital Security, accusing it of involvement in efforts "to increase Russia's offensive cyber capabilities". "As of 2015, Digital Security worked on a project that would increase Russia's offensive cyber capabilities for the Russian Intelligence Services", including the FSB, according to the USA government.
A computer technician connects a computer into a network server in an office building in Washington, D.C., on May 13, 2017. Last December, U.S. Navy Rear Admiral Andrew Lennon, the commander of NATO's submarine forces, told The Washington Post that "Russia is clearly taking an interest in North Atlantic Treaty Organisation and NATO nations' undersea infrastructure", saying the recent level of Russian underwater activity near undersea cables has been unprecedented.
Furthermore, sanctions apply to Aleksandr Lvovich Tribun, Oleg Sergeyevich Chirikov and Vladimir Yakovlevich Kaganskiy for acting for or on behalf of Divetechnoservices.
The four other companies added to the blacklist also allegedly have links to Russian Federation, though the remaining individuals on the list are of Sudanese or Libyan nationality. They include Digital Security, ERPScan and Embedi.
The move is in response to alleged Russian cyber-attacks on the US. The US used new legislative authority to impose the sanctions to "counter the constantly evolving threats emanating from Russian Federation".
According to the Treasury Department, "Russia has been active in tracking undersea communication cables" which carry global telecommunications data.
The entities and individuals were designated for aiding Russia's Federal Security Service, or FSB, the powerful intelligence and security agency sanctioned earlier for its role in interfering in the 2016 presidential election.
Dozens of Russian individuals and companies have been hit with sanctions since 2012. Digital Security has some major clients, including Yandex, QIWI, Mail.ru Group, Tele2, and SAP.
Updated 6/11/18 15:35 EST: Updated article with statement from ERPScan CTO & Founder Alexander Polyakov.
"I woke up and was embraced by such news". "We are a software company focused on helping to protect ERP systems".