US charges two Russian spies over Yahoo cyberattack

US charges two Russian spies over Yahoo cyberattack

Two Russian intelligence agents and two “criminal hackers” were indicted Wednesday over the theft of 500 million Yahoo accounts in one of the largest cyberattacks in history, The Guardian reports.

Unveiled in Washington by the US Justice Department, the indictment links the FSB, to the massive data breach at Yahoo, which began in 2014 and which officials have said was used for espionage and financial gain.

The two Russian agents, identified as Dmitry Dokuchaev and Igor Sushchin, were both part of the successor agency to Russia’s KGB.

Dokuchaev was an officer in the FSB Center for Information Security, known as “Center 18,” which is supposed to investigate hacking and is the FBI’s point of contact in Moscow for cyber-crimes.

The 33-year-old was reported to have been arrested in Moscow earlier this year on treason charges. He is accused of directing the Yahoo hack along with his superior, the 43-year-old Sushchin.

The two officers “protected, directed, facilitated and paid criminal hackers to collect information through computer intrusions in the United States and elsewhere,” acting assistant attorney general Mary McCord told reporters.

They hired Alexsey Belan and Karim Baratov, described as “criminal hackers,” to carry out the attacks, which continued until late 2016.

The hackers sought to cash in on the breach by accessing stolen credit or gift card numbers, and through a series of spam marketing schemes.

The US indictment includes 47 criminal charges including conspiracy, computer fraud, economic espionage, theft of trade secrets and identity theft.

The indictments come amid a high-stakes US investigation into claims of Russian cyber-meddling in the US election, potentially to aid the winning efforts of Donald Trump.

Asked if there were any links between the Yahoo hack and the wider question of Russian interference, McCord said, “We don’t have anything that suggests any relationship,” adding that the election case “is an ongoing investigation.”