Russian Spies Charged in Massive Yahoo Email Hack

17 March, 2017, 01:29 | Author: Elaine Woods
  • Acting Assistant Attorney General Mary McCord second from left speaks during a news conference at the Justice Department in Washington Wednesday

The Russian agents paid two criminal hackers, Alexsey Belan and Karim Baratov, to break into the Yahoo accounts and then steal information that could be used to further compromise other accounts, according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

The four engaged in "computer hacking, economic espionage and other criminal offenses" in one of the largest cyber crimes in USA history, the Justice Department said.

Belan made the FBI's Cyber Most Wanted criminals list in November 2013.

The Justice Department was expected to publicly announce the charges Wednesday.

"When nation states support this kind of activity it's not a fair fight". The U.S. does not have an extradition treaty with Russian Federation.

The widespread hack was broadly targeted at the email accounts of Russian and US officials, journalists and business officials, according to the Associated Press.

The US government alleged the content of at least 30 million accounts was accessed as part of a spam campaign, and at least 18 people who used other internet service providers, such as Google, were also victimised.

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The indictments were announced at a press conference in Washington DC.

The indictments also target Dmitry Dokuchaev, Igor Sushchin and Alexey Belan who has been charged twice before in connection with cyber intrusions.

Yahoo disclosed in September that hackers breached its network in late 2014 and stole personal data associated with more than 500 million users.

In September past year, Yahoo announced that its unprecedented breach was a state sponsored attack, and the company has said this indictment "unequivocally shows" that to be true. Baratov was arrested in Canada on Tuesday.

The Russian Federal Security Service, a.k.a. the FSB, is the Russian Federation's successor to the KGB, which employed President Vladimir Putin before he became a politician. US Attorney General Jeff Sessions said in a statement that the attack was "one of the largest data breaches in history".

United States authorities and cyber security specialists have been saying for years that the Kremlin employs criminal hackers, allowing the Russian government to advance its agenda while denying involvement.

In one of the biggest hacking operations ever, cyber criminals targeted security, diplomatic, military personnel and journalists, for espionage and financial gain.

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