Yahoo hack: US charges Russian spies allegedly responsible for data breach
Two officers from the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) and two hackers have been charged by the US government over massive data breach at Yahoo.
The charges arise from a compromise of Yahoo user accounts that began at least as early as 2014.
Acting assistant attorney general Mary McCord said: "Two FSB officers, protected, directed, facilitated and paid criminal hackers to collect information through computer intrusions in the US and elsewhere."
One of the alleged hackers, Alexsey Belan, had been on the FBI's most wanted list.
The suspects named in a DOJ press release are:
- Dmitry Aleksandrovich Dokuchaev, 33, a Russian national and resident
- Igor Anatolyevich Sushchin, 43, a Russian national and resident
- Alexsey Alexseyevich Belan, 29, a Russian national and resident
- Karim Baratov, 22, a Canadian and Kazakh national and a resident of Canada
"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," said Ms McCord.
Though the US Justice Department has previously charged Russian hackers with cybercrime - as well as hackers sponsored by the Chinese and Iranian governments - this would be the first criminal case brought against Russian government officials.
It comes as federal authorities investigate Russian interference through hacking in the 2016 presidential election.
Yahoo did not disclose the 2014 breach until last September when it began notifying at least 500 million users that their email addresses, birth dates, answers to security questions and other personal information may have been stolen.
Three months later, Yahoo revealed it had uncovered a separate hack in 2013 affecting about one billion accounts, including some that were also hit in 2014.
The Kremlin said its domestic intelligence service was not involved in any unlawful activity.