Four Hackers Charged With Breaching 500M Yahoo Accounts

The U.S. Justice Department has unsealed indictments against four men accused of hacking into a half-billion Yahoo email accounts. Two of the men named in the indictments worked for a unit of the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) that serves as the FBI’s point of contact in Moscow on cybercrime cases. Here’s a look at the accused, starting with a 22-year-old who apparently did not try to hide his tracks.

According to a press release put out by the Justice Department, among those indicted was Karim Baratov (a.k.a. Kay, Karim Taloverov), a Canadian and Kazakh national who lives in Canada. Baratov is accused of being hired by the two FSB officer defendants in this case — Dmitry Dokuchaev, 33, and Igor Sushchin, 43 — to hack into the email accounts of thousands of individuals.

Karim Baratov, as pictured in 2014 on his own site, mr-karim.com.

Karim Baratov (a.k.a. Karim Taloverov), as pictured in 2014 on his own site, mr-karim.com. The license plate on his BMW pictured here is Mr. Karim.

The government says the two other Russian nationals who were allegedly part of the conspiracy to hack Yahoo — the aforementioned FSB Officers Dokuchaev and Sushchin — used Belan to gain unauthorized access to Yahoo’s network. Here’s what happened next, according to the indictments:

“In or around November and December 2014, Belan stole a copy of at least a portion of Yahoo’s User Database (UDB), a Yahoo trade secret that contained, among other data, subscriber information including users’ names, recovery email accounts, phone numbers and certain information required to manually create, or ‘mint,’ account authentication web browser ‘cookies’ for more than 500 million Yahoo accounts.

“Belan also obtained unauthorized access on behalf of the FSB conspirators to Yahoo’s Account Management Tool (AMT), which was a proprietary means by which Yahoo made and logged changes to user accounts. Belan, Dokuchaev and Sushchin then used the stolen UDB copy and AMT access to locate Yahoo email accounts of interest and to mint cookies for those accounts, enabling the co-conspirators to access at least 6,500 such accounts without authorization.”

U.S. investigators say Dokuchaev was an FSB officer assigned to Second Division of FSB Center 18, also known as the FSB Center for Information Security. Dokuchaev’s colleague Sushchin was an associate of FSB officer was embedded as a purported employee and Head of Information Security at a Russian financial firm, where he monitored the communications of the firm’s employees.

dokuchaev-fbi

According to the Justice Department, some victim accounts that Dokuchaev and Sushchin asked Belan and Baratov to hack were of predictable interest to the FSB (a foreign intelligence and law enforcement service), such as personal accounts belonging to Russian journalists; Russian and U.S. government officials; employees of a prominent Russian cybersecurity company; and numerous employees of other providers whose networks the conspirators sought to exploit. Other personal accounts belonged to employees of commercial entities, such as a Russian investment banking firm, a French transportation company, U.S. financial services and private equity firms, a Swiss bitcoin wallet and banking firm and a U.S. airline.

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