Tension between Russia and the US has intensified after a Northern District of California grand jury accused two Russian intelligence agents and two conspirators of masterminding the massive 2016 Yahoo breach involving forged cookies that exposed 500 million accounts, US Department of Justice announced.
“The criminal conduct at issue, carried out and otherwise facilitated by officers from an FSB unit that serves as the FBI’s point of contact in Moscow on cybercrime matters, is beyond the pale,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General McCord. “Once again, the Department and the FBI have demonstrated that hackers around the world can and will be exposed and held accountable. State actors may be using common criminals to access the data they want, but the indictment shows that our companies do not have to stand alone against this threat.
Starting in 2014, Federal Security Service of the Russian Federation (FSB) agents Dmitry Aleksandrovich Dokuchaev, 33, and Igor Anatolyevich Sushchin, 43, allegedly paid freelance hackers Alexey Belan, 29, and Karim Baratov, 22, to break into the network. Belan was already on the FBI’s “Cyber Most Wanted” list since 2013.
The stolen information was used to access various mail providers of persons of interest, including Russian journalists, US and Russian government officials, employees of financial businesses and of a Russian cybersecurity company, a bitcoin wallet from Switzerland and a US airline. One of the criminals used the information for personal financial gain.
“Cybercrime poses a significant threat to our nation’s security and prosperity, and this is one of the largest data breaches in history,” said Attorney General Sessions. “But thanks to the tireless efforts of U.S. prosecutors and investigators, as well as our Canadian partners, today we have identified four individuals, including two Russian FSB officers, responsible for unauthorized access to millions of users’ accounts. The United States will vigorously investigate and prosecute the people behind such attacks to the fullest extent of the law.”