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Justice Indicts Four Russians in Yahoo! Hack

The Justice Department said Wednesday (March 15) that it has indicted two members of the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB), the successor to the KGB, an intelligence agency of the Russian Federation, and two outside hackers, in the theft of about 500 million Yahoo accounts in 2014.

The two Russian officials, Dmitry Dokuchaev and Igor Sushchin, "protected, directed, facilitated and paid criminal hackers [Alexsey Belan and Karim Baratov] to collect information through computer intrusions in the United States and elsewhere," the Justice Department said.

“Cyber crime 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 Jeff Sessions in announcing the multicount indictment by a grand jury of the Northern District of California. “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.”

"People rightly expect that their communications through Silicon Valley internet providers will remain private, unless lawful authority provides otherwise," said U.S. Attorney Brian Stretch for the Northern District of California. "“Working closely with Yahoo and Google, Department of Justice lawyers and the FBI were able to identify and expose the hackers responsible for the conduct described today, without unduly intruding into the privacy of the accounts that were stolen. We commend Yahoo and Google for providing exemplary cooperation while zealously protecting their users’ privacy.”

The indictment comes as members of Congress are looking into both that hack, another Yahoo! breach and allegations the Russians hacked Democrats' email accounts to influence the 2016 election.

Yahoo! agreed to cut the price Verizon is paying to buy the company by $350 million in light of its two breaches.

The hackers targeted "accounts of Russian and U.S. government officials, including cybersecurity, diplomatic and military personnel," according to the indictment. In addition, they targeted "Russian journalists; numerous employees of other providers whose networks the conspirators sought to exploit; and employees of financial services and other commercial entities."

Ironically, the FSB unit that the indicted officials worked for is the point of contact for the FBI in Moscow for cybercrime matters.