U.S. charges Russian spies, hackers in massive Yahoo hack

Wed Mar 15, 2017 7:48pm EDT
 
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By Dustin Volz

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States on Wednesday charged two Russian intelligence agents and two criminal hackers with masterminding the 2014 theft of 500 million Yahoo accounts, marking the first time the U.S. government has criminally charged Russian spies for cyber offenses.

The charges came amid a swirl of controversies relating to alleged Kremlin-backed hacking of the 2016 U.S. presidential election and possible links between Russian figures and associates of U.S. President Donald Trump, and uncertainty about whether Trump is willing to respond forcefully to aggression from Moscow in cyberspace and elsewhere.

The 47-count Justice Department indictment includes charges of conspiracy, computer fraud and abuse, economic espionage, theft of trade secrets, wire fraud, access device fraud and aggravated identify theft. It paints a picture of the Russian security services working hand-in-hand with cyber criminals, who helped spies further their intelligence goals in exchange for using the same exploits to make money.

"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 cyber crime matters, is beyond the pale,” Acting Assistant Attorney General Mary McCord said at a press conference announcing the charges.

Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) is the successor to the KGB.

Yahoo said when it announced the then-unprecedented breach last September that it believed the attack was state-sponsored, and on Wednesday the company said the indictment "unequivocally shows" that to be the case.

The charges announced Wednesday are not related to the hacking of Democratic Party emails during the 2016 U.S. presidential election. U.S. intelligence agencies have said they were carried out by Russian spy services, including the FSB, to help the campaign of Republican candidate Donald Trump.

The indictment named the FSB officers involved as Dmitry Dokuchaev and his superior, Igor Sushchin, who are both in Russia.   Continued...

 
A poster of suspected Russian hackers is seen before FBI National Security Division and the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Northern District of California joint news conference at the Justice Department in Washington, U.S., March 15, 2017. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas