Today the Department of Justice charged four individuals, including two Russian spies and two other criminal hackers, with the 2014 theft of 500 million Yahoo users' account information - one of the largest data breaches in history.
The independent hackers are Alexsey Belan, who's on the list of most-wanted cyber criminals and who's now in Russian Federation under the state's protection, and Karim Baratov, a Canadian citizen arrested on Tuesday. U.S. authorities have accused the Russian, Iranian and Chinese governments of other cybercrimes, but Wednesday's indictment is the first time a criminal case has been brought against Russian officials. Or officials, as it were.
The charges, filed in court in San Francisco, include hacking, wire fraud, trade secret theft and economic espionage.
The defendants targeted the accounts of Russian and US government officials, as well as Russian journalists, employers of other providers and employers of financial services.
Belan was named one of the FBI's Cyber Most Wanted criminals in November 2013.
Despite the current furore over Russian spy services allegedly hacking Democratic Party emails during the 2016 presidential election, these charges are unrelated.
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Belan was previously arrested in Europe in 2013 before escaping to Russian Federation.
The men used unauthorized access to Yahoo's systems to steal information from about at least 500 million Yahoo accounts, starting in January 2014, according to the indictment. McCord said Wednesday's indictment does not allege any links between the Yahoo hack and the DNC hacks.
According to the indictment, the FSB specifically targeted Yahoo as a means of gathering intelligence information in an attempt to target journalists, political detractors and US government officials.
Canadian resident Baratov was arrested Tuesday in that country on a provisional US arrest warrant, and his case is now before a Canadian court. Interestingly, Dokuchaev was already arrested in Russian Federation last December and charged with state treason for passing information to the Central Intelligence Agency. Neither Sushchin nor Belan have been apprehended by the US or any other nations.
"The United States will vigorously investigate and prosecute the people behind such attacks to the fullest extent of the law", he said.