USA officials told reporters that the indictments targeted two intelligence officers who worked for Russia’s lead intelligence agency, the Federal Security Service, also known as the FSB.
The charges – which include “computer hacking, economic espionage and other criminal offenses in connection with a conspiracy” – are the first criminal cyber charges filed by the USA against the Russian Government. Or officials, as it were.
The indictment includes 47 counts of conspiracy to commit espionage, wire fraud, computer device fraud, and identity theft, among other crimes. United States authorities are seeking his extradition. Neither Sushchin nor Belan have been apprehended by the US or any other nations. Karim Baratov, a hacker-for hire, was arrested yesterday in Canada, where he has Citizenship, although he was born in Kazakhstan. US officials say the goal of the state-sponsored spying was to obtain information on Russian and American officials, dissidents and journalists.
The charges have added buzz to the already-ongoing controversy of possible Russian hackings on the 2016 U.S presidential campaign to favor now elected President Donald Trump.
The hackers also used the Yahoo data to send spam and steal credit card and gift card information.
The hackers used the information to obtain contents at Yahoo and other emails providers, including Google’s Gmail, the Justice Department said.
“The involvement and direction of FSB officers with law enforcement responsibilities makes this conduct that much more egregious”, acting Assistant Attorney General Mary McCord said.
Yahoo has been repeatedly the subject of successful cyber attacks, with the company falling victim to hackers in both in 2012 and 2014.
The Department of Justice is set to disclose Wednesday the indictments of at least four people accused of carrying out cyberattacks at Yahoo, DOJ officials told NBC News.
It is still unclear if a 2013 hack that resulted in the theft of more than one billion Yahoo accounts was related to the 2014 hack or carried out by the same or related individuals.
Cyber thieves were believed to have stolen names, email addresses, telephone numbers, dates of birth and encrypted passwords, the company said.
Last month Yahoo agreed to cut the sale price of its assets to Verizon by $350 million, to $4.48 billion, to account for potential liabilities from the 2014 hack as well as one in 2013 that affected more than 1 billion accounts.