National Security

Russian Security Officers Indicted for Hacking Yahoo

JM Ashby
Written by JM Ashby

At a press conference this morning, Mary McCord, the acting assistant attorney general for national security, announced that four individuals have been charged for the massive breach of Yahoo that exposed 500 million accounts in 2014.

Two of the hackers charged by the Department of Justice are FSB officers who allegedly used Russia intelligence resources to pull it off.

The DOJ named three Russian suspects: Dmitry Aleksandrovich Dokuchaev, 33; Igor Anatolyevich Sushchin, 43; and Alexsey Alexseyevich Belan, 29. Dokuchaev and Sushchin are Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) officers, according to the department. The other suspect is Karim Baratov, 22, a Canadian resident from Kazakhstan who Canadian authorities arrested Tuesday. [...]

The suspects face a number of charges, according to the DOJ: conspiracy, computer fraud and abuse, economic espionage, theft of trade secrets, wire fraud, access device fraud and aggravated identity theft. The most serious of those charges, conspiring to commit wire fraud, carries a maximum sentence of 20 years.

According to the Justice Department, the breach was intended to ensnare journalists and public officials in both America and Russia which I imagine puts the Putin regime in a awkward position. It would be easier for them to deny the charges if they had simply been accused of hacking Americans. Russian surveillance of their own public officials and journalists isn't a secret.

This is one to watch because we don't know exactly who the FSB hoped to hack, but I expect that kind of detail will be revealed in court. The specificity of the charges, such as economic espionage and theft of trade secrets, suggests the Department of Justice knows exactly who the intended targets were.

  • muselet

    “The criminal conduct at issue, carried out and otherwise facilitated by officers from an FSB unit that serves as the FBI’s point of contact in Moscow on cybercrime matters, is beyond the pale,” McCord said in a press release.

    Either the FSB got cocky and thought the hack couldn’t be traced back to them, or this case is one of the reasons Vladimir Putin backed Donald Trump: he figures Trump will call off the dogs at the earliest possible opportunity.

    Since Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III is not recused from this case, it will be interesting to see what happens.


    • Badgerite

      This is a real concern. One can’t help but have the impression that the Russian government and Russian crime organizations are allied. And to allow one to hack the US elections and install their preferred candidate is to allow their criminal element an advantage when trying to steal from and damage America. America First my *ss.

      • muselet

        Theoretically at least, the FSB is Russia’s internal security service. Hacking Russian nationals is within the agency’s remit, but hacking Americans—especially “U.S. government officials, including cyber security, diplomatic, military, and White House personnel”—should be the bailiwick of the SVR, the Foreign Intelligence Service.

        Did the FSB’s tame hackers go feral or were they pointed at American targets? Did the FSB know their operation had been compromised, pushing Putin to take sides in the US election, or are those two tnings coincidence?

        I fear what the Sessions-led DoJ does with this case will depend as much as anything on the amount of news coverage it receives between now and trial. Certainly Trump will want to make it all go away so Putin won’t get angry with him.

        The question marks over this story make me uneasy.


        • Badgerite

          Me too. Very uneasy.

    • JMAshby

      It’s true, we’re more or less at the mercy of ambitious federal attorneys and career civil servants who still want to make a name for themselves while Beauregard chases reefer madness.