Tech

Russians Hired Hackers Behind Yahoo Breach

By Edge Ison , Mar 16, 2017 04:01 AM EDT
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Russian agents and two hackers were among the defendants who have been charged by the U.S. Government in connection with the Yahoo breach back in 2014. Charged for the Yahoo hack were three Russians including two officers of Russia's Federal Security Service or FSB, the modern version of the Soviet Union's KGB, and a Canadian.

The official statement from the Department of Justice indicated that a grand jury has indicted the Russian officers and their collaborators for "computer hacking, economic espionage and other criminal offenses" resulting in the hacking of half a billion Yahoo accounts. The two agents charged were Dmitry Aleksandrovich, 33, and Igor Anatolyevich Sushchin, 43, both Russian nationals and residents. Also included in the indictment were cyber mercenaries Alexsey Alexseyevich "Magg" Belan, 29, also a Russian National and resident, and Karim Baratov who is also known with his aliases "Kay", "Karim Taloverov" and "Karim Akehmet Tokbergnov". Baratov, who resides in Canada, is both a Canadian and Kazakh national. Baratov has been arrested in Canada on Tuesday while the other three are unlikely to be taken into custody because of a lack of extradition treaty between the U.S. and Russia.

The 39-page indictment explains that the scheme began in January 2014. The two Russian intelligence officers supposedly hired the two hackers to breach the Yahoo accounts. One of the cyber criminals was allegedly tasked to search compromised Yahoo accounts for the words "visa" and "mastercard". The hacker then gathered the credit cards' security code which was used for purchases made online.

New York Times noted that the data gathered by the agents and the hackers from the Yahoo breach were also allegedly used by the Russian government in surveillance involving the White House. The Russians purportedly also spied on military officers, bank executives and a couple of cloud computing companies in the U.S. along with an airline and a gambling regulator in Nevada.

The Russian government has long been accused as the force behind the proliferation of fake news especially during the campaign period for the U.S. presidential elections. Some went on to say that Donald Trump won because of the supposed Russian propaganda.

The U.S. Attorney for Northern District of California, Brian Stretch, stressed that the criminal charges and indictment of the two Russian agents and two hackers are mere allegations for now. The Justice Department is still gathering information to pin down the perpetrators for their alleged hacking of more than 500 million Yahoo accounts and millions of other online accounts.

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