The U.S. Department of Justice (DoJ) announced Wednesday that it is charging four suspects — two who work as officers at the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) — for hacking Yahoo and breaching hundreds of millions of user accounts.
The other two defendants, Alexsey Belan and Karim Baratov, are criminal hackers that conspired with the two agents to accomplish the intrusions.
“Dmitry Dokuchaev and Igor Sushchin, both FSB officers, protected, directed, facilitated and paid criminal hackers to collect information through computer intrusions in the United States and elsewhere,” the DoJ’s official statement reads.
“The defendants targeted Yahoo accounts of Russian and U.S. government officials, including cyber security, diplomatic and military personnel,” the report continues, adding that they also sought to attack Russian journalists, and employees of financial and commercial entities.
The FSB is an intelligence and law enforcement agency that succeeded the Soviet Union’s infamous KGB. The specific unit that the two agents work for (known as the Center for Information Security, or Center 18) is the direct point of contact for FBI when the two countries are cooperating on cyber crime matters.
Yahoo announced in December that one billion user accounts were hacked two years ago, an incident separate from another cyber intrusion where roughly 500 million accounts were breached. It’s believed that both of the cases are respectively the two largest single cyber thefts ever.
The DoJ is charging the alleged perpetrators for the hack that affected approximately 500 million accounts.
Belan has been indicted in the United States twice before for “three intrusions into e-commerce companies.” In fact, his “notorious criminal conduct” has prompted him to become one of the FBI’s most wanted cyber criminals for years.
Yahoo was valued at $125 billion at its peak, but is now being sold for approximately 3.6 percent of what it was once worth after years in decline and a substantial price cut following the hacks. (RELATED: Yahoo Board Nukes CEO Marissa Mayer’s $2 Million Bonus)
The tech conglomerate was also forced to spend millions of dollars in legal and investigative costs related to the security breaches. Yahoo faces “43 putative consumer class action lawsuits, four stockholder derivative actions and one putative stockholder class action,” according to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.
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