National Security

Russian Hacker Got Paid To Hack Yahoo Search Engine With Fake Erectile Dysfunction Ads

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Russ Read Pentagon/Foreign Policy Reporter
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A notorious Russian hacker allegedly involved in the massive hack of millions of Yahoo email accounts purportedly made money by manipulating the company’s search engine to show users fake erectile dysfunction ads.

Alexsey Beylan was tasked by Russian FSB agents Dmitry Dokuchaev and Igor Sushchin to hack into Yahoo’s systems in 2014 in order to gather user information. Beylan was able to gain access to Yahoo’s network, allowing him to redirect search engine traffic to a fake link for erectile dysfunction medications. When clicked on, the fake link redirected Yahoo users to a cloud computing firm’s website and then an online pharmacy, which paid Belan a “bounty,” according to the Department of Justice.

In total, 500 million accounts were affected by the hack. Beylan cashed in by gaining access to the information of 30 million users whose contacts were then used to facilitate a spam email scheme. He also used his access to gain access to users’ credit and gift card information.

Belan is a notorious cyber criminal, with a long history of hacking. He was on U.S. law enforcement’s radar prior to the Yahoo case, due to his hacking of various internet companies.

“Belan has been indicted twice before in the United States for three intrusions into e-commerce companies that victimized millions of customers, and he has been one of the FBI’s most wanted cyber criminal for more than three years,” said acting Assistant Attorney General Mary McCord, during a press conference Wednesday.

The Department of Justice charged Beylan with 47 counts as a result of his involvement in the Yahoo hack, including charges of conspiracy, computer fraud and abuse, economic espionage, theft of trade secrets, wire fraud, access device fraud and aggravated identity fraud. He was last known to be in Krasnodar, Russia, according to the FBI.

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