02 Jan 15. US imposes fresh sanctions on North Korea. The US sanctions target North Korea’s arms trading and defence establishment after a cyber attack on Sony as it geared up for the release of The Interview, a film satirising North Korean leader Kim Jong Un Barack Obama has ratcheted up pressure on North Korea after a damaging cyber attack on Sony Pictures, imposing new sanctions on agencies and officials linked to its arms trading and intelligence establishment. The US president on Friday authorised the Treasury to designate three entities and 10 individuals as agencies or officials controlled by the North Korean government, denying them access to the US financial system and barring them from doing business with the US in an attempt to increase financial pressure on the regime. The decision to impose new sanctions came two weeks after the White House first publicly blamed North Korea for the Sony attack, as officials grappled with how to punish a regime that is already economically isolated and severely impoverished. “We take seriously North Korea’s attack that aimed to create destructive financial effects on a US company and to threaten artists and other individuals with the goal of restricting their right to free expression,” the White House said. The Sony cyber attack saw employee pay details, health records, social security numbers and other personal data dumped online as the studio geared up for the release of The Interview, a film satirising North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. North Korea has denied responsibility for the attack, the scale of which the Federal Bureau of Investigation has characterised as unprecedented. The primary targets of the new sanctions are officials connected with its defence industry. Most of the individuals included in Friday’s order work for Pyongyang’s primary arms dealer and exporter, the Korea Mining Development Trading Corporation, in countries such as Russia, Iran and Syria. North Korea’s main intelligence organisation, Reconnaissance General Bureau, has also been targeted. “Today’s actions are driven by our commitment to hold North Korea accountable for its destructive and destabilising conduct,” said Jack Lew, US Treasury secretary. “Even as the FBI continues its investigation into the cyber attack against Sony Pictures Entertainment, these steps underscore that we will employ a broad set of tools to defend US businesses and citizens, and to respond to attempts to undermine our values or threaten the national security of the United States.” However, some cyber security experts continue to question whether the FBI was right to accuse North Korea of attacking Sony Pictures. Cyber criminals often try to hide their tracks, for example, by routing traffic through other countries to disguise their origins, so it is difficult to be certain about attribution. The company investigating the security breach, FireEye owned Mandiant, has not announced the results of its probe. But other cyber security companies have said there is not enough information publicly to accuse North Korea, and suggested that the cyber attack could have been mounted by a disgruntled employee with access to passwords or a member of the so-called Lizard Squad, hacktivists who have previously targeted Sony’s PlayStation network. (Source: FT.com)
02 Jan 15. Israel Lists 14 Programs Introduced in 2014. From its newest nuclear-capable submarine to vegan-considerate, leather-free boots and berets, here is a year-end list of 14 programs fielded during 2014, as translated from the official Israel Defense Forces (IDF) website:
1. Hot, healthy, low-fat meals ready to eat (MREs) supported forces for the first time in Israel’s summer 2014 Operation Protective Edge in Gaza.
2. INS Tanin, the fourth of six German-built, Israeli-equipped Dolphin-class submarines, arrived at its home base at Haifa on September 23.
3. New manned and unmanned Israel Air Force aircraft include:
* Samson C-130J, the first of its planned fleet of Lockhe