Obama authorizes new sanctions regime targeting perpetrators of malicious cyber attacks

President Barack Obama is creating the first sanctions program that would allow the U.S. to penalize individuals overseas who engage in cyberattacks and cyber spying.

Obama signed an executive order Wednesday establishing the sanctions regime, though no specific penalties were being announced.

In a statement, Obama says cyberthreats post "one of the most serious economic and national security challenges" to the U.S. He says the new sanctions regime will allow the U.S. to target those engaged in malicious cyber activity that includes harming critical infrastructure, gaining a financial advantage, and disrupting computer networks.

The announcement follows the Obama administration's allegations that North Korea was behind last year's cyberattack on Sony Pictures.