Russian spies accused of hacking a half billion Yahoo accounts

Lucy Hill
March 18, 2017

The U.S. on Wednesday indicted two Russian intelligence officers and two cyber hackers who are allegedly behind a massive data breach that targeted Yahoo's email servers.

In a rare move, the US has indicted two Russian government agents for their suspected involvement in a massive Yahoo data breach. Sushchin allegedly had a cover job as head of information security at a Russian bank, where he monitored the communications of employees for the FSB, according to the indictment.

With the Yahoo keys to the kingdom in hand, according to the indictment, the hackers sought access to the Yahoo accounts of "Russian journalists; Russian and U.S. government officials; employees of a prominent Russian cybersecurity company; and numerous employees of U.S., Russian, and other foreign webmail and Internet-related service providers whose networks the conspirators sought to further exploit".

"These FSB officers used criminal hackers to gain information that clearly, some of which, has intelligence value", said McCord. Center 18 is also "the FBI's point of contact in Moscow for [cybercrime] matters", she added. Baratov, a Canadian and Kazakh national who lives in Canada, was arrested Tuesday and will be extradited to the U.S. Dokuchaev has been in custody since late past year on treason charges.

The indictment opens a window on what US officials say is the reliance of Russia's intelligence community on a thriving criminal underground to achieve foreign policy objectives, flouting global anti-crime conventions and treaties.

Yahoo, which is based in California, sent an email in September alerting users that their account information - including email addresses, telephone numbers, dates of birth, passwords and security questions - had been stolen in a cyberattack two years earlier.

More than 500 million accounts may be affected.

He seemed "normal", said a friend who went to high school with Baratov and asked not to be named - as normal as one with a suspicious amount of wealth and no shortage of luxury cars can be.

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The US Justice Department has essentially accused the FSB of being behind the Yahoo hack which essentially implies that the Russian Government, and Vladimir Putin would have been involved in some capacity. Prosecutors said they received no response to their requests to the Russian government to turn over Belan to United States authorities.

Also indicted in the alleged conspiracy that authorities said began in January 2014 were Dmitry Aleksandrovich Dokuchaev, 33, Igor Anatolyevich Sushchin, 43, and Alexsey Alexseyevich (Magg) Belan, 29, all Russian nationals and residents.

Baratov was arrested in Canada this week. Yahoo has said it believed it was the victim of a "state-sponsored" attack. Belan copied and exported a backup of Yahoo's user database between November and December 2014. (The U.S. and Russian Federation do not have an extradition treaty.) "I think that is reflective of the relationship and the approach needed to take in this case in terms of the lack of cooperation we have gotten", he said.

In a statement on Wednesday, Yahoo thanked the Justice Department and Federal Bureau of Investigation for their efforts. Washington's charges against Russian citizens over the hacking attack on Yahoo are used for defaming Moscow's image in the United States, Russian MP Leonid Slutsky said on Thursday.

"All my friends know him too, and none of them know anything about his life", Le said.

McCord declined to say whether there were any similarities between the Yahoo intrusions and the Russian state penetrations in 2015 and 2016 of the Democratic National Committee. "We do reach a point where the USA government says we can't reveal any more info and you'll have to take our word on it".

The hack resulted in a leak of thousands of emails and attachments from the DNC, published by WikiLeaks.

A Canadian of Kazakh origin and living outside of Toronto is in police custody and on his way to the be charged with computer hacking and economic espionage, according to The Canadian Press.

Other reports by TheDailyFarc

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