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Acting Assistant Attorney General Mary B. McCord Delivers Remarks at Press Conference Announcing Charges Against Russian FSB Officers and Their Criminal Conspirators for Hacking Yahoo

Good morning and thank you all for being here. I am joined today by FBI Executive Assistant Director Paul Abbate, U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of California Brian Stretch and Office of International Affairs Director Vaughn Ary.

We are here to announce a major law enforcement action related to one of the largest data breaches in U.S. history.

Today, we are announcing the indictment of four individuals responsible for the 2014 hack into the network of email provider Yahoo, the theft of information about at least 500 million Yahoo accounts and the use of that information to obtain the contents of accounts at Yahoo and other email providers.

The defendants include two officers of the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB), an intelligence and law enforcement agency of the Russian Federation and two criminal hackers with whom they conspired to accomplish these intrusions.

Dmitry Dokuchaev and Igor Sushchin, both FSB officers, protected, directed, facilitated and paid criminal hackers to collect information through computer intrusions in the United States and elsewhere.

They worked with co-conspirators Alexsey Belan and Karim Baratov to hack into computers of American companies providing email and internet-related services, to maintain unauthorized access to those computers and to steal information, including information about individual users and the private contents of their accounts.

The defendants targeted Yahoo accounts of Russian and U.S. government officials, including cyber security, diplomatic and military personnel. They also targeted Russian journalists; numerous employees of other providers whose networks the conspirators sought to exploit; and employees of financial services and other commercial entities.

Belan has been indicted twice before in the United States for three intrusions into e-commerce companies that victimized millions of customers, and he has been one of the FBI's most wanted cyber criminals for more than three years.

Belan's notorious criminal conduct and a pending Interpol Red Notice did not stop the FSB officers who, instead of detaining him, used him to break into Yahoo's networks.

Meanwhile, Belan used his relationship with the two FSB officers and his access to Yahoo to commit additional crimes to line his own pockets with money.

Specifically, Belan used his access to Yahoo to search for and steal financial information, such as gift card and credit card numbers, from users' email accounts.

He also gained access to more than 30 million Yahoo accounts, whose contacts were then stolen to facilitate an email spam scheme.

With these charges, the Department of Justice is continuing to send the 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.

For those not familiar with the FSB, it is an intelligence and law enforcement agency and a successor to the Soviet Union's KGB. The FSB unit that the defendants worked for, the Center for Information Security, aka Center 18, is also the FBI's point of contact in Moscow for cyber-crime matters.

The involvement and direction of FSB officers with law enforcement responsibilities makes this conduct that much more egregious. There are no free passes for foreign state-sponsored criminal behavior.

Through the work of the National Security Division, the FBI and U.S. Attorney's Offices around the country, we continue to pursue national security cyber threats, using all available tools to investigate malicious activity and attribute it to the country, agency and even individuals involved.

When possible, and supported by the evidence, we intend to charge those individuals and bring them to justice.

As I wrap up, I am also pleased to announce that a fourth co-conspirator charged in the indictment, Karim Baratov, was arrested just yesterday in Canada on a U.S. government provisional arrest warrant.

I'd like to thank all of those who worked diligently to bring the investigation to this point, including the men and women of the National Security Division, the FBI, the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Northern District of California and the Criminal Division's Office of International Affairs for their tireless work.

I'd also like to thank Yahoo and Google, whose customers were targeted, and who cooperated with us. It is very important for corporations around the country to know, when you are going against the resources and backing of a nation state, it is not a fair fight, and it is not a fight you are likely to win alone. But you do not have to go it alone. We can put the full capabilities of the United States behind you to make cases like this, but we cannot do it without your help.

At this time, I'd like to introduce FBI Executive Assistant Director Paul Abbate, who will provide additional details on today's announcement.

[Source: DOJ, National Security Division, Washington, 15Mar17]

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small logoThis document has been published on 17Mar17 by the Equipo Nizkor and Derechos Human Rights. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes.