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Yahoo hacking charges against Canadian may be 'politically motivated': lawyer
18 March 2017, 01:30 | Ignacio Smith
US Charges Russian Officials Over Hacks For the First Time
Instead, Belan escaped to Russian Federation, where the US charges didn't hamper his job prospects.
The FSB is an intelligence and law enforcement agency of the Russian Federation, and it's believed that the two FSB officers work in an FSB unit that serves as the FBI's point of contact in Moscow on cyber crime matters. "We do reach a point where the USA government says we can't reveal any more info and you'll have to take our word on it".
The case further blurs the lines between the Russian government and cybercriminals.
This is the first time officials of Russia's FSB have been indicted on cybercrime charges in the United States, said Jack Bennett, special agent in charge of the FBI's San Francisco office. He spoke at a press conference on Wednesday.
The two agents of the FSB who were charged are Dmitry Aleksandrovich Dokuchaev, 33, a Russian national and resident, and Igor Anatolyevich Sushchin, 43, a Russian national and resident.
A USA intelligence official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said employing criminal hackers helps "complement Kremlin intentions and provide plausible deniability for the Russian state".
"We are in a cyberwar and our government hasn't woken up and done anything about it", said security analyst Avivah Litan of Gartner Inc. It is not at all clear that the Dokuchaev and Sushchin, if actually involved, were operating in an official capacity or whether they were just simply opportunists trying to exploit their links to the other hackers. Yahoo disclosed the breach previous year, and pointed the finger at a "state-sponsored actor".
One of the lawyers retained by alleged Yahoo hacker Karim Baratov says his Canadian client may be the victim of a "politically motivated attack".
He told reporters Russian Federation had received no official word about the charges and was getting all its information from the media.
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.
Those indicted had leased servers and used virtual private networks in the United States and other countries, the indictment says.
Yahoo declined to comment on the report.
In 2014, Yahoo's security team uncovered evidence that a hacker backed by an unnamed foreign government had pried into user accounts, but executives "failed to act sufficiently" on that knowledge, according to the results of an internal investigation.
Proving yet again how hard intrusions can be to detect, the hack unrolled through 2015 to the end of 2016. The targets included numerous financial executives, executives at a USA cloud computing company, an airline official, and even a casino regulator in Nevada.
"This case is going to be a great test", said Paul Abbate, executive assistant director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. "They show that we have the resources and capabilities to identify the people at the keyboard, even in the most sophisticated cases".
US officials said Baratov also went by the names Kay, Karim Taloverov and Karim Akehmet Tokbergenov.
Belan, meanwhile, found opportunities to make some money on the side. The hackers also launched campaigns against large groups of users - including people who searched online for erectile dysfunction medicine. That pharmacy paid Belan to drive traffic to the site, according to the indictment.
"The Russians are pretty much No. 1 in terms of using criminal organization as partners", Michael Chertoff, former U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security, told USA TODAY in a phone interview. The U.S. Justice Department would not confirm that account. This case shows more promise for real courtroom action; one of the suspects has already been apprehended. While Belan remains at large in Russia, Baratov was presented before a Canadian court on Wednesday, where he reportedly claimed that he intends to apply for bail, but that he needs to find legal counsel, Bloomberg reported.
Baratov has a bail hearing Friday in a Hamilton court.
The U.S.is seeking forfeiture of funds held in a PayPal accounts controlled by Baratov and Dokuchaev, and two luxury cars - a gray Aston Martin DBS with a "Mr. Karim" vanity plate and a black Mercedes Benz C54.
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