Top House Democrat: U.S. Inaction After Sony Hack May Have Motivated Russian Cyber Attacks

cyber computer
A system control center operator sits at his computer workstation at an AEP Transmission Operations Center in New Albany, Ohio / AP

A senior House Democrat said on Tuesday the Obama administration's refusal to retaliate against North Korea for the 2014 cyber attack against Sony Pictures may have motivated Russian hackers to target U.S. political networks this past year.

"Russia may have concluded that they could hack American institutions and there'd be no price to pay," Rep. Adam Schiff (D., Calif.), the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, said at a press event hosted by the Christian Science Monitor, Reuters reported.

Schiff encouraged the U.S. to step up counter measures to prevent similar cyber attacks, warning that "unless we establish some kind of deterrent, this is going to be unending." He suggested that officials in Washington work with European allies to impose economic sanctions on Russia.

The U.S. formally accused Russia in October of directing a series of cyber attacks against Democratic political organizations, including the high profile hack into the Democratic National Committee that forced the resignation of former chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Shultz.

Schiff had earlier issued a joint statement with Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D., Calif.) charging that Moscow was attempting to influence the U.S. elections.

The Obama administration in 2014 publicly charged that North Korea was responsible for crippling hacks into Sony Pictures following the production of the film The Interview, which satirized a fictional assassination of leader Kim Jong-un.