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San Francisco grand jury indicts Russian nationals over Yahoo hack

Four people, including two Russian Federal Security Service officers, have been indicted by a San Francisco federal grand jury in connection with a 2014 hacking attack on Yahoo, the U.S. Attorney’s Office announced Wednesday.

The grand jury indicted Russian nationals Dmitry Aleksandrovich Dokuchaev, 33, Igor Anatolyevich Sushchin, 43, and Alexsey Alexseyevich Belan, Aka “Magg,” 29, as well as Karim Baratov, aka “Kay,” “Karim Talaverov” and “Karim Akehmet Tokbergenov,” 22, a Canadian and Kazakh national and resident of Canada.

The four men are alleged to have stolen information from at least 500 million Yahoo accounts, and used some of that information to obtain access to the contents of accounts at Yahoo, Google and other webmail providers.

Dokuchaev and Suschin, both of whom work for the Russian security service also known as FSB, allegedly directed and paid hackers to collect the information, working with Belan and Baratov in this case to obtain access to email accounts.

They also protected Belan from prosecution in the U.S. after he was previously indicted in September 2012 and June 2013. The U.S. had issued a notice seeking his detention in July 2013, but Belan was able to escape arrest in a European country and flee to Russia, where Dokuchaev and Sushchin employed him to gain access to Yahoo’s network.

Some of those hacked include Russian journalists, U.S. and Russian government officials and private-sector employees of financial, transportation and other companies, prosecutors said.

Belan allegedly also obtained credit card and gift card account numbers from Yahoo user communications for his own personal financial gain, and redirected a subset of Yahoo search engine web traffic to allow him to make commissions and steal the contacts of at least 30 million Yahoo accounts for use in a spam campaign.

Baratov, who allegedly helped obtain unauthorized access to more than 80 accounts for a commission, was arrested in Canada on March 14 and the matter is now pending with Canadian authorities, prosecutors said.

Chris Madsen, Yahoo’s assistant general counsel, said the company was “deeply grateful” to the FBI and U.S. Department of Justice for bringing charges against those responsible for the attack.

“The indictment unequivocally shows the attacks on Yahoo were state-sponsored,” Madsen said today.

“We’re committed to keeping our users and our platforms secure and will continue to engage with law enforcement to combat cybercrime,” Madsen said.

The hackers allegedly lost access to Yahoo’s networks in September 2016 but continued to use stolen information through at least December, prosecutors said.

More information about the case was expected to be released at a news conference at the FBI’s San Francisco office at 10:30 a.m. today.

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