Canadian hacker, Russian spies charged in Yahoo breach

Mar 22, 2017, 00:23
Canadian hacker, Russian spies charged in Yahoo breach

"[They] then used some of that stolen information to obtain unauthorized access to the contents of accounts at Yahoo, Google and other webmail providers, including accounts of Russian journalists, US and Russian government officials, and private-sector employees of financial, transportation and other companies", the department alleged.

In the indictment, USA authorities name two hackers as Alexsey Alexseyevich Belan, aka "Magg", 29, a Russian national and resident; and Karim Baratov, aka "Kay", "Karim Taloverov" and "Karim Akehmet Tokbergenov", a 22-year-old Canadian and Kazakh national, resident in Canada.

In September, Yahoo sent a mass email to users to inform them that their account information had been stolen from its network in a cyberattack in late 2014.

Only one was arrested - Canadian Karim Baratov.

This enabled them to change their victims' passwords and access their other e-mail accounts.

"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 Acting Assistant Attorney General Mary McCord, the head of the Justice Department's national security division. Dokuchaev and Sushchin were said to be Russian intelligence agents who allegedly masterminded and directed the hacking, the justice department said. Belan's notorious criminal conduct and a pending Interpol Red Notice did not stop the FSB officers who, instead of detaining him, used him to break into Yahoo's networks.

The two FSB officers worked in a section devoted to cyber security, McCord said.

The hackers sought to cash in on the breach by accessing stolen credit or gift card numbers, and through a series of spam marketing schemes.

Toronto police said Baratov was arrested Tuesday in the Ontario community of Ancaster at the request of American authorities.

Russian intelligence agents are able to recruit some of the country's best hackers by threatening them with charges if they don't co-operate, according to the USA indictment.

McCord described the FSB as an intelligence and law enforcement agency and a successor to the Soviet Union's KGB.

The US said Dokuchaev was an officer in the FSB's Center for Information Security, known as Center 18, which is tasked with investigating hacking and is the FBI's point of contact in Moscow for cybercrimes. A U.S. Justice department release alleges he uses the names "Kay", "Karim Taloverov" and "Karim Akehmet Tokbergenov". Belan was arrested in a European country on a request from the U.S.in June 2013, says the release, but he was able to escape to Russian Federation before he could be extradited.

Belan, who has been indicted twice in the U.S.in the past for cyber-related crimes, is now on the FBI's Cyber's Most Wanted list and is the subject of a Red Notice for Interpol nations, which includes Russian Federation.

Belan also allegedly obtained unauthorized access on behalf of the FSB conspirators to Yahoo's Account Management Tool (AMT), which was a proprietary means by which Yahoo made and logged changes to user accounts, says the statement.

Meanwhile, according to a report of Russia's Sputnik news agency on Wednesday, Washington has never approached Moscow to address the accusations and the probe against Russian nationals allegedly involved in hacker attacks on Yahoo accounts, citing a highly-placed Russian source.

Dokuchaev and Sushchin allegedly tasked Baratov with hacking more than 80 accounts in exchange for commissions, according to US authorities, who submitted a provisional arrest warrant to Canadian authorities March 7.

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