U.S. President Barack Obama, left, and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
U.S. President Barack Obama, left, and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.  AP

U.S. Sanctions North Korea Over Sony Hack

Updated: Jan 02, 2015 5:08 PM ET

The United States is imposing sanctions on North Korea following last year's devastating hack of Sony Pictures Entertainment, the White House said Friday, calling them the "first aspect of our response" to the cyberattack.

President Barack Obama signed an executive order Friday authorizing additional actions against the North Korean government following the November cyberattack, which U.S. government agencies, including the Federal Bureau of Investigation, have pinned on the isolated country's government. The new sanctions will initially prohibit 10 individuals and three organizations access to U.S. financial systems, including North Korea's main intelligence agency and it's primary arms exporter. Among the individuals who are facing sanctions are representatives of the government and its state-owned enterprises to Iran, Russia, China, Sudan and Namibia. Others may soon face sanctions as well. None of the officials are being sanctioned because they were directly involved in the Sony hack, a senior Administration official said. The sanctions are on top of long-standing penalties in place for to limit the country's nuclear program and its human rights abuses.

READ MORE New research blames insiders, not North Korea, for Sony hack

"The E.O. authorizes the Secretary of the Treasury to impose sanctions on individuals and entities associated with the Government of North Korea," White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said in a statement. "We take seriously North Korea’s attack that aimed to create destructive financial effects on a U.S. company and to threaten artists and other individuals with the goal of restricting their right to free expression."

The hack left Sony reeling from the online publication of executives' embarrassing emails, salary information and more. It was seen by some as retaliation for Sony's movie The Interview, which depicts a fictional assassination plot against North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. Threats from hackers of 9/11-style attacks against theaters that screened the film initially led Sony to cancel its Christmas Day release, but it has since been screened in many small theaters and made available for streaming online. North Korea has denied being behind the hack, and some security experts have pointed to the possibility of insiders being responsible instead.

“We stand firmly behind our call that [North Korea] was behind the attack into Sony,” a senior Administration official said. “Some of the same cybersecurity firms don’t have access to the same [intelligence]."

The Most Controversial Films of All Time

James Franco;Seth Rogen
The Interview, 2014 The James Franco-Seth Rogen movie hadn’t even been released when it made its greatest impact. The Interview, about two Americans on a mission to kill Kim Jong-un, has sparked conversations about the tastefulness -- or not -- of depicting the killing of a foreign head of state. But it also is widely seen as having sparked the Sony hacking scandal, as the hackers, known as the Guardians of Peace, have urged Sony not to release the film. The ripple effect of the email hack saw off-color remarks about Angelina Jolie, Aaron Sorkin, and President Obama between Sony executives go public.Columbia
James Franco;Seth Rogen
'The Birth Of A Nation'
Charles Chaplin And Jack Oakie In 'The Great Dictator'
Ray Milland & Jane Wyman In 'The Lost Weekend'
Sue Lyon And James Mason In 'Lolita'
Bonnie And Clyde
"A Clockwork Orange"  Hawk Films, Ltd. December 19, 1971
Dustin Hoffman And Meryl Streep In 'Kramer vs. Karmer'
Michael Douglas And Sharon Stone In 'Basic Instinct'
Nicole Kidman In 'Eyes Wide Shut'
MCDPAOF NW021
MCDBORA FE048
The Interview, 2014 The James Franco-Seth Rogen movie hadn’t even been released when it made its greatest impact. The In
... VIEW MORE

Columbia
1 of 14

In his end-of-year news conference last month, Obama promised that the U.S. government would respond, but would not discuss the specifics. That was followed by Internet outages in North Korea, but it's unclear if those incidents were related. “They caused a lot of damage, and we will respond,” Obama said. “We will respond proportionally, and we’ll respond in a place and time and manner that we choose.”

“The actions taken today under the authority of the President’s new Executive Order will further isolate key North Korean entities and disrupt the activities of close to a dozen critical North Korean operatives," Treasury Secretary Jack Lew said in a statement. "We will continue to use this broad and powerful tool to expose the activities of North Korean government officials and entities."

Read next: State Department Insists North Korea Behind Sony Hack

newsletter
The Brief NewsletterSign up to receive the top stories you need to know right now. View Sample

Listen to the most important stories of the day.

All products and services featured are based solely on editorial selection. TIME may receive compensation for some links to products and services on this website.