On Wednesday, two Russian spies and two “criminal hackers” indicated over a massive cyberattack affecting 500 million Yahoo users, the US Justice Department announced.
The accusation revealed in Washington last year, links Russia’s top spy agency in one of the largest cyberattacks in history, which officials said was used for espionage and financial gain.
Marissa Mayer, Yahoo Chief Executive has lost an annual bonus and the company counsel his job after an investigation showed the company mishandled a 2014 hack that resulted in the theft of personal data from more than 500 million user accounts.
Until last September, the pioneering Silicon Valley internet firm did not publicly disclose the hack.
According to an independent committee, Yahoo´s security team knew about the attack when it happened, the company said in a regulatory filing.
By the end of 2016, senior executives and some legal staff were made aware that “a state-sponsored actor had accessed certain user accounts” by exploiting an account management tool.
Yahoo said in the filing “While significant additional security measures were implemented in response to those incidents, it appears certain senior executives did not properly comprehend or investigate.”
It is the first criminal case brought in the US against Russian government officials.
Details of 500 million users were stolen during the hack – one of the largest in history. Ms McCord added that one of the hackers, Alexsey Belan, had been on the FBI’s most wanted list for three years.
The FSB agents were identified as Dmitry Dokuchaev, 33, and Igor Sushchin, 43.
Ms McCord said they had “protected, directed, facilitated and paid criminal hackers to collect information through computer intrusions in the United States and elsewhere”.
According to Ms McCord, the targets of the hack included security, diplomatic, journalists and military personnel and the cyberattack was used for espionage and financial gain.
Ms McCord added that one of the hackers, Alexsey Belan, had been on the FBI’s most wanted list for three years.
Belan, 29, was born in Latvia but has Russian citizenship, a Russian passport and speaks Russian. The FBI said he may travel within Russia, Greece, Latvia, the Maldives and Thailand.
Baratov was arrested this week in Canada.
Yahoo’s chief executive Marissa Mayer tweeted: “Very grateful to the FBI and DOJ for bringing to justice the Russian officials and hackers who led the attack on Yahoo.”
Yahoo still faces probes and lawsuits related to the cyberattacks affecting more than 1.5 billion accounts, and the timing of the disclosures.
The hacks have been a major embarrassment for a former internet leader that has failed to keep up with Google, Facebook and other tech stars.