Yahoo hack: US Justice Department files charges against Russian spies in connection with cyber breach


Massive hacks of user data from Yahoo was revealed last year (Source: Getty)

US authorities have filed charges against Russian intelligence officials in connection with a massive hack of data from Yahoo in 2014.

The US Justice Department (DOJ) has indicted four defendants, including two officers of the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB), for "computer hacking, economic espionage and other criminal offenses in connection with a conspiracy, beginning in January 2014, to access Yahoo’s network and the contents of webmail accounts".

A hack of data from the online firm resulted in the personal details of 500m users being compromised. At the time, Yahoo said it believed the attack to be state-sponsored.

Read more: Yahoo hack puts Verizon deal and Marissa Mayer under pressure

The breach and a second larger one uncovered shortly after, resulted in Verizon reducing the price it is paying in a multi-billion dollar deal to buy Yahoo's search, mail and messaging assets.

The indictments are the first US criminal cyber charges against Russian government officials, according to the Washington Post

Details of the indictment

The defendants are Dmitry Aleksandrovich Dokuchaev, 33, a Russian national and resident; Igor Anatolyevich Sushchin, 43, a Russian national and resident; Alexsey Alexseyevich Belan, aka “Magg,” 29, a Russian national and resident; and Karim Baratov, aka “Kay,” “Karim Taloverov” and “Karim Akehmet Tokbergenov,” 22, a Canadian and Kazakh national and a resident of Canada.

According to US authorities, the defendants used some of the stolen Yahoo information to obtain unauthorised 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.

One of the defendants also exploited his access to Yahoo’s network for his personal financial gain, the Justice Department said, by searching Yahoo user communications for credit card and gift card account numbers, redirecting a subset of Yahoo search engine web traffic so he could make commissions and enabling the theft of the contacts of at least 30m Yahoo accounts to facilitate a spam campaign.