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U.S. is about to charge hackers for Yahoo attacks

U.S. is about to charge hackers for Yahoo attacks The U.S. Justice Department is set to announce Wednesday the indictments of two Russian spies and two criminal hackers in connection with the heist of 500 million Yahoo user accounts in 2014, marking the first U.S. criminal cyber charges ever against Russian government officials, The Washington Post reported.

The indictments target two members of the Russian intelligence agency FSB, and two hackers hired by the Russians.

The charges include hacking, wire fraud, trade secret theft and economic espionage, according to officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the charges have not yet been announced. The indictments are part of the largest hacking case brought by the United States.

The charges are unrelated to the hacking of the Democratic National Committee and the FBI’s investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential campaign. But the move reflects the U.S. government’s increasing desire to hold foreign governments accountable for malicious acts in cyberspace.

The United States does not have an extradition treaty with Russia, but officials have said that taking steps such as charges and imposing sanctions can be a deterrent. People also sometimes slip up and travel to a country that is able and willing to transfer them to the United States for prosecution.

Yahoo reported the 2014 hack last fall — in what was then considered the largest data breach in history. The company later disclosed another intrusion affecting more than 1 billion user accounts in 2013, far surpassing the 2014 event. Officials have not determined whether there is a link between the two.

The twin hacks clouded the prospects for the sale of Yahoo’s core business to telecommunications giant Verizon. The deal is proceeding after Verizon negotiated the price down in the wake of the breaches.

In the 2014 hack, the FSB — Russia’s Federal Security Service, and a successor to the KGB — sought the information for intelligence purposes, targeting journalists, dissidents and U.S. government officials, but allowed the criminal hackers to use the email cache for the officials’ and the hackers’ financial gain, through spamming and other operations.
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