The US Justice Department has charged two Russians intelligence agents and two hackers – one Russian and one Canadian – for the 2014 Yahoo hack that compromised 500 million Yahoo accounts.
According to the allegations, the Russian government used the hacked information to gather intelligence on foreign officials, business people and journalists.
This case marks the first time the US government has taken legal action against Russia for cyber attacks. The four men face 47 criminal charges, including conspiracy, computer fraud and espionage.
In a statement, Yahoo’s assistant general counsel said that the indictment was consistent with their prior disclosures and “unequivocally shows the attacks on Yahoo were state-sponsored”.
Details of the indictment come as the US government investigates Russia’s ties to the breaches that occurred during last year’s presidential election. Along with the strong possibility that Russians hacked the Democratic National Committee’s (DNC) emails, investigators are also looking at links between the Trump Administration and Russian officials.
The agency behind the hacks is thought to be Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB), which is the successor to the KGB. After the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991, the KGB was split into the FSB and Foreign Intelligence Service.
The indictment named two FSB officers, Dmitry Dokuchaev and Igor Sushchin, who are both in Russia. Since there is no extradition agreement between US and Russia, it is very unlikely that they will be prosecuted.
All but one of the four men charged with the Yahoo hack remain at large. USA Today reports that Karim Beratov was arrested by Toronto police in Canada on Tuesday.
Baratov is a Canadian of Kazakhstani heritage. The Toronto Star investigated his social media accounts, examined property records and spoke with his neighbours in order to understand more about him.
The profile that emerged was of a wealthy 22-year-old man who enjoys a lavish lifestyle. Documents help by the Ministry of Transportation show that Baratov has owned luxury cars such as an Aston Martin, a Porsche and a Lamborghini.
Baratov’s social media posts reveal that he liked flexing his muscles and talking about the details of his 11 weekly visits to the gym. Sounds like your typical annoying Gym Brah.
As if the hacking and muscle-flexing wasn’t bad enough, Baratov also showed off some sketches he did, including one of himself as the Terminator. Delusions of grandeur, anyone?
In a Facebook post, Baratov boasted about being suspended from high school for “threatening to kill my ex-friend as a joke”, so at least he has a great sense of humor.
He claimed to have made his money as a programmer and by investing in the stock market. His friend Shane Leo told The Star:
Karim is a nice guy and a loyal friend and I can always rely on him in times of need…Anything that he has done in the past does not define him now… He always motivates me to be the best I can be and has been a very positive impact on my life.
Unfortunately for Leo, his buddy is also a wanted a cyber criminal and will most likely be extradited to the US to face federal charges soon.