The US has announced charges against two Russian intelligence officers and two hackers over a massive Yahoo data breach that affected at least 1 billion user accounts.
The indictment, unveiled by the justice department on Wednesday, said that the hack targeted the email accounts of Russian journalists and opposition politicians; former government officials in neighboring countries; and several US government figures, including “cyber security, diplomatic, military and White House personnel”.
At a press conference in Washington, the acting assistant attorney general for national security, Mary McCord, said: “The department of justice is continuing to send a powerful message that we will not allow individuals, groups, nation-states, or a combination of them to compromise the privacy of our citizens, the economic interests of our companies or the security of our country.
The justice department has previously charged Russian hackers and hackers sponsored by the Chinese and Iranian governments, but Wednesday’s indictment marked the first criminal case for cybercrimes brought against Russian government officials.
It comes amid intense political controversy over Russian interference in the US election, including a data breach of the Democratic National Committee.
The two intelligence agents were identified as Dmitry Dokuchaev and Igor Sushchin, both of who worked for the Russian spy agency FSB, which is the modern day KGB.
There were also two freelance hackers named in the indictment, Alexsey Belan and Karim Baratov.
Baratov was arrested by the Canadian authorities, and currently Belan is in Russia, where the government is protecting him from extradition.
Author Thomas Reid got his hands on the indictment and started tweeting its rather disturbing contents.
Revealing two FSB officers with org setup, pictures, hint at a 3rd is a strong message even by historical standards. Could deter or escalate pic.twitter.com/4I0d4uGuUv— Thomas Rid (@RidT) March 15, 2017
Important to note that 1st defendant—Dokuchaev—is *already* charged for treason in Moscow. https://t.co/gJ06EpS8M5— Thomas Rid (@RidT) March 15, 2017
One possible reason: pic.twitter.com/w5X8X7Xoqy
I am particularly disturbed by this because I was also targeted and had to change my password twice.Extraordinary: DoJ/FBI reveal what must be highly sensitive for FSB: specific *intra-Russian gov't targeting* < possibly deterrence attempt pic.twitter.com/pp3AB4leq0— Thomas Rid (@RidT) March 15, 2017
Hopefully this is just the beginning and that the US has a stack of indictments they are ready to issue to round up the hackers responsible for the DNC hack, the White House hack, the Hillary Clinton Campaign hack, and every other hack directed at us from Donald Trump's puppet masters.