US charges Russian spies and hackers with Yahoo hack

The US Department of Justice has charged two Russian hackers and two Russian spies with hacking Yahoo in what is believed to be part of the biggest data breach of all time with more than 1.5 billion user accounts stolen. 

One arrest has already been made.

This case relates to a different cyber attack than the one in which the beleaguered Yahoo lost 1 billion user accounts, which took place in 2013. The one for which charges are being brought took place in 2013.

So…

  • 2013 Yahoo hack – 1 billion user accounts breached; and
  • 2014 Yahoo hack – 500 million user accounts breached.

The DoJ is bringing the charges in relation to the 2014 hack.

This is believed to be the first time the US has brought cyber espionage charges against active Russian agents. In this case, the Russian spies in question are:

  • Igor Suschin; and
  • Dmitry Dokuchaev.

They are currently said to be pretending to work at Russia’s Foreign Intelligence Service, the FSB.

The other alleged idle slackers hired as hackers are two “non-governmental” agents:

  • Alexsey Belan; and
  • Karim Baratov.

Baratov has Canadian citizenship and was reportedly arrested there earlier this week. Belan is on the FBI’s most wanted cybercriminals list, and currently under Russian protection, according to Wired.

“With these charges, the Department of Justice is continuing to send the powerful message that we will not allow individuals, groups, nation states or a combination of them to compromise the privacy of our citizens, the economic interests of our companies, or the security of our country,” acting Assistant Attorney General Mary McCord said in a statement.

The DoJ charges and the arrest come at a time of heightened tensions between Russia and the US, after US intelligence agencies’ allegations that Russian spies watched the US elections.

In a report, US spies told President Donald Trump that Russian President Vladimir Putin was directly responsible for ordering an “influence campaign”.

Russian authorities have dismissed the claims and say the US authorities have produced no evidence. But nonetheless, authorities in the former communist state arrested several people – including FSB officers and Kaspersky workers – and has reportedly accused them of treason.

Meanwhile, Yahoo is going through with its acquisition by Verizon, the telecommunications company, which has been negotiating a discount.

Verizon had initially offered $4.83 billion to buy Yahoo, but after the revelations of the hacking, it asked for a discount of $925 million.

In the end, it seems to have agreed a discount of $350 million, bringing down the possible final purchase price down to $4.48 billion.

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