Canadian Karim Baratov among four charged in massive hack of Yahoo

Phillip Butler
March 16, 2017

The Russian agents paid two criminal hackers, Alexsey Belan and Karim Baratov, to break into the Yahoo accounts and then steal information that could be used to further compromise other accounts, according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

The indictments target two members of the Russian intelligence agency FSB, marking the first United States criminal cyber charges ever against Russian government officials. Or officials, as it were.

The hackers specifically targeted the Yahoo accounts of Russian and USA government officials, including those involved with cybersecurity, Russian journalists and financial services companies, the Federal Bureau of Investigation said.

The Justice Department said the group gained access to Yahoo's systems to steal information from at least 500 million Yahoo accounts and then used that information to get content from other accounts on Google and other webmail providers. Others targeted include those belonging to employees of a Russian investment banking firm, a French transportation company, USA financial services and private equity firms, a Swiss bitcoin wallet, a banking firm, and a US airline.

"Cyber crime poses a significant threat to our nation's security and prosperity, and this is one of the largest data breaches in history", said Attorney General Jeff Sessions in announcing the multicount indictment by a grand jury of the Northern District of California. It's a Yahoo trade secret that contained user names, recovery email accounts, phone numbers and authenticating information for half a billion Yahoo accounts.

We're here for one of the largest data breaches in United States history.

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.

Though born in Kazakhstan, Mr. Baratov has Canadian citizenship and was taken into custody in Canada on Tuesday, the Justice Department said.

"But the fact that [the USA government is] charging two members of the FSB - the successor to the old Soviet KGB - shows the sort of cyber activities that the Russian government may be involved in", said Bays. "We are shrinking the world to ensure that cyber criminals think twice before targeting USA persons and interests". Alexsey Belan, one of the most-wanted cyber criminals in the world, and hacker-for-hire Karim Baratov were also charged, according to the Post.

At the time it disclosed the 2014 data breach a year ago, Yahoo said it may have been hacked by a "state-sponsored actor".

The personal details of 1bn Yahoo users were stolen by hackers between 2013 and 2014.

Other reports by Ligue1talk

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