(AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

Department of Justice: Russian intelligence was behind Yahoo user account breach

It's the first time America has charged Russian government officials with cyber crimes

Matthew Rozsa
March 15, 2017 10:15PM (UTC)

The Department of Justice has officially pointed the finger of blame at Russia for a 2014 hack that impacted 500 million user accounts.

"Four individuals, including two officers of the Russian Federal Security Service [FSB], were indicted in connection with a conspiracy to hack into Yahoo's network and the contents of webmail accounts," Department of Justice's announced in its case, United States v. Dmitry Dokuchaev, et al. The report claims that "Dmitry Dockuchaev and Igor Sushchin, both FSB officers, protected, directed, facilitated and paid their co-conspirators to collect information through computer intrusions in the United States and elsewhere." The claim says they worked with Alexsey Belan and Karim Baratov to obtain access to the e-mail accounts of thousands of individuals."


The Justice Department's indictments mark the first time the American government has charged Russian government officials with cyber crimes, according to The Washington Post.

The charges include not only hacking but also wire fraud, trade secret theft and economic espionage.

In addition to Dokuchaev and Sushchin, the Department of Justice is also accusing two hackers who did not work for FSB but were hired by the Russian government. They claim that the immediate goal of the hack was intelligence-gathering — the particular targets included politicians and government officials, journalists, and dissidents — but that the officials and hackers were also permitted to use the data to spam and engage in other activities that could earn them money.


Because America does not have an extradition treaty with Russia, the Russians charged may not face court any time soon.

Matthew Rozsa

Matthew Rozsa is a breaking news writer for Salon. He holds an MA in History from Rutgers University-Newark and is ABD in his PhD program in History at Lehigh University. His work has appeared in Mic, Quartz and MSNBC.

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