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US under cyber attacks impose sanctions on Russian-state center

WASHINGTON

The US sanctioned Friday what it called a Russian government “research institution” that it said is tied to “destructive and life-threatening” malware.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a statement Washington is levying sanctions against the State Research Center of the Russian Federation FGUP Central Scientific Research Institute of Chemistry and Mechanics (TsNIIKhM), which designed the Triton malware.

The malicious software is also known as TRISIS and HatMan, and “was designed to specifically target and manipulate industrial safety systems,” according to the State Department.

“Such systems provide for the safe emergency shutdown of industrial processes at critical infrastructure facilities in order to protect human life,” he said.

The malware was used in attack on a Middle East-based petrochemical plant in 2017, and was used to survey US facilities, Pompeo charged.

“While the Russian government claims to be a responsible actor in cyberspace, it continues to engage in dangerous and malicious activities that threaten the security of the United States and our allies,” he said. “We will not relent in our efforts to respond to these activities using all the tools at our disposal, including sanctions.”

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