The US government has charged two Russian intelligence officers for "computer hacking, economic espionage and other criminal offenses" in connection with the 2014 hacks that compromised about 500 million Yahoo user accounts. The Department of Justice announced that four people, including two officers of the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB), have been accused of stealing more than half a billion Yahoo accounts.
The Russian government used the information obtained by the intelligence officers and two other men to spy on a range of targets, from White House and military officials to executives at banks, two American cloud computing companies, an airline and even a gambling regulator in Nevada, according to the indictment.
The DOJ named Dmitry Dokuchaev and Igor Sushchin as the two Russian intelligence officers involved in the hacks. The two other men named in the indictment include a Russian hacker,Alexsey Alexseyevich Belan already indicted in connection with three other computer network intrusions and a Kazakh national,Karim Baratov living in Canada.
Baratov, a Canadian citizen, has already been arrested, while Belan is still out. Russian authorities are reportedly protecting Belan from extradition.
— FBI (@FBI) March 15, 2017
The acting assistant attorney general for national security, Mary McCord, said, “The department of justice is continuing to send a powerful message that we will not allow individuals, groups, nation-states, or a combination of them to compromise the privacy of our citizens, the economic interests of our companies or the security of our country."
"The defendants used unauthorized access to Yahoo’s systems to steal information from about at least 500 million Yahoo accounts and then used some of that stolen information to obtain unauthorised access to the contents of accounts at Yahoo, Google and other webmail providers, including accounts of Russian journalists, US and Russian government officials and private-sector employees of financial, transportation and other companies," the DOJ said in a statement.
The latest development comes on the heels of intense political controversy between Russia and the US over a data breach of the Democratic National Committee. McCord said the attack was aimed at gathering information “clearly some of which has intelligence value”. But she added that “the criminal hackers used this to line their own pockets for private financial gain.”
In a statement, Yahoo said, "The indictment unequivocally shows the attacks on Yahoo were state-sponsored. We are deeply grateful to the FBI for investigating these crimes and the DOJ for bringing charges against those responsible."
Yahoo has been breached twice, and the company previously said a September 2014 breach was state-sponsored but declined to identify who it believed was responsible. Theses massive hacks led to $350 billion price cut on Yahoo's price tag that Verizon had agreed to pay last year, before the disclosures.