In a first on Wednesday, the U.S. Justice Department brought charges against two Russian government officials related to a 2014 cyber intrusion which compromised over 500 million Yahoo accounts.
The result of a two-and-a-half year probe, which included the assistance from British Intelligence, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, and the Toronto Police Department, Justice Department officials contend the motive for the data breach was a meld of intelligence gathering and an insatiable appetite for financial information.
“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,” Assistant Attorney General for National Security Mary McCord told reporters.
Among those charged are Dmitry Dokuchaev and Igor Sushchin, both of whom work for the FSB, the Russian Federation’s main security organ.
Although the Justice Department writ says the Russian duo were acting in an official FSB capacity, McCord made a point to separate Wednesday’s charge from hackings into DNC databases in 2016.
According to the indictment, the pair of FSB agents are charged collaborating along with two others, Karim Baratov and Alexsey Belan, to perform computer hacking and economic espionage.
“[Baratov, Sushchin worked] with co-conspirators to hack into computers of American companies providing email and internet-related services, to maintain unauthorized access to those computers and to steal information, including information about individual users and the private contents of their accounts,” read the indictment.
Dokuchaev is in Russian custody pending charges of treason; Baratov was arrested by Toronto police. The two others, FSB official Sushchin, and hacker Belan, who remains on the FBI’s most wanted cyber offender list, are believed to be in Russia.
In response to the indictments handed down in Washington on Wednesday, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters during a Thursday briefing that Moscow has “repeatedly stated that there can be absolutely no question of any official involvement of any Russian agency, including the FSB, in any unlawful actions in cyberspace.”
[The Guardian] [RT] [Photo courtesy AFP via South China Morning Post]