Placing charges stemming from the hacking of at least half a billion Yahoo accounts, two Russian intelligence officers and two other people were indicted by the U.S. Department of Justice.
The Justice Department said that information about “millions of subscribers” at Yahoo, Google, and other webmail providers were mange to be gained by the defendants that includes two officers of the Russian Federal Security Service – Dmitry Dokuchaev and Igor Sushchin.
The Justice Department said that in order to access email accounts, the co-conspirators of the incident – Alexsey Belan and Karim Baratov, were paid by Dokuchaev and Sushchin. Belan is a “notorious” criminal hacker — one of the FBI’s most wanted — known for hacking U.S. e-commerce companies, said acting Assistant Attorney General Mary McCord.
The media had been anticipating the indictment and there were reports published earlier about the possibility of this.
Believed to be clearly the biggest in history, Yahoo disclosed two separate data breaches last year. More than 1 billion user accounts of Yahoo were affected an this was revealed after a 2013 attack in December last year. Information was stolen from at least 500 million user accounts in a separate 2014 attack in the same company.
The indictment concerned at least 30 million Yahoo accounts for which account contents were compromised and at least 500 million Yahoo accounts for which account information was stolen, the Justice Department said on Wednesday.
“We are deeply grateful to the FBI for investigating these crimes and the DOJ for bringing charges against those responsible,” Yahoo said in a statement.
Before the breaches were publicly disclosed, Verizon had agreed to buy Yahoo. $350 million was cut from its purchase price for Yahoo by Verizon in February. She would forgo her annual bonus in the wake of the incident, said Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer earlier this month.
After the board of directors concluded that Yahoo’s legal team did not sufficientl pursue information about the hacks, Yahoo’s top lawyer, Ronald Bell, resigned from the company.
The efforts of Yahoo and Google, who cooperated with the investigation and worked “tirelessly” were highlighted by McCord.
“When you are going against the resources of a nation state, you cannot go it alone. You do not have to….We can put the full capabilities of the United States behind you,” McCord said.
In its statement, Yahoo said: “The indictment unequivocally shows the attacks on Yahoo were state-sponsored. We are deeply grateful to the FBI for investigating these crimes and the DOJ for bringing charges against those responsible.”
“We appreciate the FBI’s diligent investigative work and the DOJ’s decisive action to bring to justice those responsible for the crimes against Yahoo and its users. We’re committed to keeping our users and our platforms secure and will continue to engage with law enforcement to combat cybercrime.”
(Adapted from CNBC)