AFP / Brendan
Smialowski Russian agents Dmitry Dokuchaev
and Igor Sushchin, indicted in the US over a
massive Yahoo hack, were part of the
successor to the KGB
Two Russian intelligence agents and a duo
of hackers were indicted Wednesday over a
data breach that compromised 500 million
Yahoo accounts in one of the largest
cyberattacks in history.
The indictment announced by the US
Justice Department links Russia's top spy
agency, the FSB, to the massive hacking
operation which began in 2014 with the twin
goals of espionage and financial gain.
It comes amid a high-stakes investigation
into Russian cyber-meddling in the US
election, potentially aimed at boosting the
campaign of President Donald Trump.
The Russian agents were identified as
Dmitry Dokuchaev and Igor Sushchin, both
members of the successor agency to Russia's
Dokuchaev was an officer in the FSB
Center for Information Security, known as
"Center 18," which is tasked with
investigating hacking and is the FBI's point
of contact in Moscow for cyber crimes.
The 33-year-old Dokuchaev was reported to
have been arrested in Moscow earlier this
year on treason charges. He is accused of
directing the Yahoo hack along with his
superior, the 43-year-old Sushchin.
The two officers "protected, directed,
facilitated and paid criminal hackers to
collect information through computer
intrusions in the United States and
elsewhere," acting assistant attorney
general Mary McCord told reporters.
They are accused of hiring hackers
Alexsey Belan and Karim Baratov to carry out
the attacks, which continued until late
Targets of the Yahoo breach included both
Russian and US government officials,
including cyber security, diplomatic and
military personnel, according to McCord, who
said it aimed to gather information "clearly
some of which has intelligence value."
She added that "the criminal hackers used
this to line their own pockets for private
financial gain," seeking to cash in on the
breach by accessing stolen credit or gift
card numbers, and through a series of spam
- Journalists, diplomats targeted -
The US indictment includes 47 criminal
charges including conspiracy, computer
fraud, economic espionage, theft of trade
secrets and identity theft.
Asked if there were any links between the
Yahoo hack and the wider question of Russian
interference, McCord said, "We don't have
anything that suggests... any relationship,"
but added that the election case "is an
AFP / Brendan Smialowski Acting Assistant US
Attorney General Mary McCord told a news
conference that two Russian spies directed
the cyberattack on Yahoo
The US statement said some targets were
"of predictable interest" to the Russian spy
agency including Russian and US government
officials and employees of a prominent
Russian cybersecurity company.
The Yahoo breach, McCord said, "also
targeted Russian journalists; numerous
employees of other providers whose networks
the conspirators sought to exploit; and
employees of financial services and other
Other accounts compromised by the hackers
belonged to employees of commercial
entities, such as a Russian investment
banking firm, a French transportation
company, US financial services and private
equity firms, a Swiss bitcoin wallet and
banking firm and a US airline, according to
the Justice Department.
Baratov, a 22-year-old Canadian-Kazakh
national, was arrested this week on a US
warrant in Canada, she said.
Belan, 29, has been indicted twice in US
cases involving the hacking of e-commerce
companies, and is listed as one of the FBI's
"Cyber Most Wanted criminals."
- 'State-sponsored' -
FBI executive assistant director Paul
Abbate said the agency has asked Moscow for
assistance in apprehending the suspects but
noted that "we have had limited cooperation
with that element of the Russian
In Russia a high-level official quoted by
Russian news agencies said that "Washington
did not communicate with Moscow about this
issue through the available channels set up
to address issues related to cybersecurity."
The source added that "the absence of
specifics in this case suggests this is the
latest twist in the use of the subject of
Russian hackers in the internal political
struggle in the US."
The attack on Yahoo, disclosed last year,
was one of the largest ever data breaches
and at the time was blamed on a
Yahoo's assistant general counsel Chris
Madsen said in a statement that the
indictment "unequivocally shows the attacks
on Yahoo were state-sponsored."
Chief executive Marissa Mayer tweeted
that Yahoo was "very grateful to the FBI &
DOJ" for their work.
The internet pioneer, which is in the
process of selling its core assets, has been
rocked by the disclosure of the breach and a
separate case that affected one billion
- Cookies, erectile dysfunction -
The indictment unsealed in federal court
in San Francisco showed a series of
techniques used by the hackers in accessing
In some cases, they used emails disguised
as legitimate messages, a technique known as
Another scheme directed users searching
for erectile dysfunction medications to a
fake website that included malicious
The hackers were also able to produce
forged "cookies" or bits of software used to
authenticate users, and used stolen Yahoo
credentials to compromise accounts of other
webmail providers, including Google.
These efforts enabled the hackers to
obtain a backup copy of Yahoo's user
database and eventually its "account
management tool" that controlled passwords
and other personal information, the