The U.S. Department of Justice announced Wednesday (March 15) that it had lodged charges against two spies in Russia and two hackers as part of the massive data breach at Yahoo that impacted more than 500 million user accounts.
According to a report, during a press conference to announce the charges, the DOJ said the four men faced 47 criminal charges, including conspiracy, computer fraud, economic espionage, aggravated identity theft and the theft of trade secrets.
One of those charged, Karim Baratov, a 22-year-old Canadian and Kazakh national, was arrested in Canada on Tuesday. Two agents of Russia’s Federal Security Service — Dmitry Aleksandrovich Dokuchaev, 33, and Igor Anatolyevich Sushchin, 43, both Russian nationals and residents — were also charged. Alexsey Alexseyevich Belan, 29, a Russian national and resident as well, was the fourth to be charged and is among the most wanted cybercriminals on the FBI’s list.
During a news conference, the government officials said the defendants engaged in a complex and widespread scheme that enabled the Russian spies to get information and for the hackers to enrich themselves.
This past fall, Yahoo disclosed a massive breach of user accounts that impacted 500 million people. In December, it disclosed yet another breach, bringing the number of potentially impacted to over a billion accounts. The data breaches placed its deal to sell its core internet assets to Verizon Communications in peril after months of negotiations between the two.
Recently, Yahoo agreed to sell its internet assets to Verizon for $350 million less and agreed to share in the liabilities that may arise from the hacks. The Securities and Exchange Commission is also looking into the timing of the company’s disclosure of the hacks. Reports have said Yahoo knew about the hacks in July, around the time it was negotiating the asset sale with Verizon.