Published: Fri, March 17, 2017
Markets | By Terence Owen

Russian agents facing charges in massive Yahoo hacking attack

Russian agents facing charges in massive Yahoo hacking attack

The Justice Department is preparing to announce charges against four defendants, including two Russian security services officers, in a mega data breach at Yahoo that affected at least a half billion user accounts, according to a federal law enforcement official.

In its indictment filing, the DOJ alleged that Russian intelligence agents Igor Suschin and Dmitry Dokuchaev hired fellow Russian Alexsey Belan and Canadian citizen Karim Baratov to hack Yahoo's servers so as to obtain personal and financial information from users, including government officials and journalists. Or officials, as it were.

On Wednesday, the US Justice Department announced that two FSB officers and two Russian hackers are being charged over a mega data breach at Yahoo with criminal offenses, including computer hacking and economic espionage.

The defendants targeted the accounts of Russian and USA government officials, as well as Russian journalists, employers of other providers and employers of financial services.

And apparently, while the two paid hackers may have used stolen information to "line their pockets" - the DOJ believes that the FSB officers likely had other motives.

The hackers involved in the cybercrime were Alexsey Belan, an Federal Bureau of Investigation most-wanted cyber criminal who was arrested back in 2013 in Europe but fled to Russian Federation to avoid deportation, and Karim Baratov, a Kazakh that has Canadian citizenship.

Belan was previously arrested in Europe in 2013 before escaping to Russian Federation.

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Obama administration officials said a year ago that the indictment of the Chinese officials and other efforts persuaded Beijing to somewhat curtail its aggressive cyber efforts to steal trade secrets of USA companies.

"It impedes those people's liberty to travel", Mary McCord, the acting assistant attorney general for national security said Wednesday morning. On September 22, 2016, we disclosed our belief that a state-sponsored actor had stolen a copy of certain user account information for approximately 500 million user accounts in late 2014.

According to Russian news agency Interfax, Dokuchaev was arrested for treason in December.

Baratov was arrested Tuesday in Canada on a USA government provisional arrest warrant.

However, the USA government has a number of tools at its disposal including diplomatic and trade sanctions that could be used to pressure or punish Russian Federation.

In a statement, White House spokesman Michael Anton said the charges "are part of a broad effort across the Government to defend the United States against cyber attacks and cyber-related crimes".

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