U.S. charges Russians for massive Yahoo data breach
WASHINGTON, March 15, 2017 – Four persons have been charged with computer fraud and economic espionage by the Department of Justice in connection with a Yahoo hacking attack that affected hundreds of millions of consumers. Two of those charged were identified as officers of the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB).
Hackers were able to steal data that included names, email addresses, and passwords. The FSB agents were identified as Igor Anatolyevich Sushchin, 43, and Dmitry Aleksandrovich Dokuchaev, 33.
The other two involved were identified as Alexsey Belan and Karim Baratov; both were previously indicted for cyber crimes.
This is the first time that the American government has issued criminal charges against Russian officials for cyber-attacks. Charges allege that the two FSB agents paid hackers to break into Yahoo’s systems with the goal of collecting intelligence on Americans.
Yahoo alerted its customers to the security breach in September and believed it was a state-sponsored attack. The company revealed another security breach in December that was much worse than the first.
The two hacks have not been connected. Assistant Attorney General Mary McCord announced the charges.
“The defendants targeted Yahoo accounts of Russian and U.S. government officials, including cyber security, diplomatic and military personnel. They also targeted Russian journalists … employees of financial services and other commercial entities.”
The Justice Department said the indictments by a federal grand jury in Northern California concerned at least 500 million Yahoo accounts for which account information was stolen, and at least 30 million Yahoo accounts for which account contents were compromised.
Yahoo lost millions in the aftermath of the security breaches. Verizon reached a price discount in their acquisition of Yahoo allowing them to only pay $4.48 billion. Federal authorities allege the hacking conspiracy began in 2014 and continued to December 2016.
The victims of the attacks include journalists, financial officers, military personnel and government officials. Yahoo released a statement praising the FBI and the DOJ for investigating the crimes and charging those responsible.