Published: Thu, March 16, 2017
Business | By Megan Pierce

USA indicts Russian spies in Yahoo hack

On Wednesday, the Justice Department charged two Russian spies for their role in stealing data form more than half a billion Yahoo accounts in 2014.

Two other hackers who were also indicted acted with the backing of Moscow, said Justice Dept. and Federal Bureau of Investigation officials in Washington DC.

Belan made the FBI's Cyber Most Wanted criminals list in November 2013.

McCord said Baratov, a Canadian national, was arrested this week on a United States warrant in Canada.

Acting assistant attorney general Mary McCord announced the indictments at a news conference in Washington DC today.

The four will face a total of 47-count charges, ranging from conspiracy, computer fraud, and abuse, to economic espionage and aggravated identity theft. The company was accused of not fully disclosing the extent of the breaches after more details emerged while the terms of the acquisition by Verizon was still being negotiated.

According to the Department of Justice, the defendants allegedly accessed Yahoo's systems to steal information from 500 million Yahoo accounts.

The attack on Yahoo, disclosed a year ago, was one of the largest ever data breaches ever and at the time was blamed on a "nation-state" attacker. "Belan's notorious criminal conduct and a pending Interpol Red Notice did not stop the FSB officers who, instead of detaining him, used him to break into Yahoo's networks", said McCord.

The charges stem from the heist of 500 million Yahoo user accounts in 2014 and would be the first case brought against Russian government officials.

Yahoo a year ago revealed it had suffered a 2013 hack of more than a billion user accounts and a 2014 breach of at least a half billion accounts.

They are accused of using the stolen information to access accounts of Russian journalists, United States and Russian government officials, and private-sector employees of financial, transportation and other companies. The information included email addresses, telephone numbers, dates of birth, passwords and security questions.

The charges are unrelated to the alleged hacking of the Democratic National Committee and the FBI's investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential campaign.

Following the hack, Verizon, which planned to acquire Yahoo for $4.8 billion, announced that it would review the terms of the agreement, including the purchase price.

Yahoo has failed to identify those responsible for the larger 2013 breach, according to a recent filing, but has said it believed a state-sponsored actor was to blame for the attack in 2014.

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