The United States Justice Department has disclosed the identities of those behind the theft of 500 million Yahoo! Inc. (NASDAQ:YHOO) user accounts in 2014. They are two Russian intelligence officers who were entrusted with helping Americans hunt for hackers but they chose to direct a sweeping criminal conspiracy. Apparently, they also broke into accounts belonging to Russian officials as well as those of employees of a Russian cyber security firm.
The Yahoo data breach is one of the biggest known thefts of sensitive records, which also put the company’s CEO Marisa Mayer on the spot. Following investigations of the hacking activities, she lost her 2016 bonus compensation, which was worth millions of dollars. Yahoo’s management claimed that she failed to carry out timely due diligence into the criminals’ acts.
Russians have previously been accused of other cyber attacks on the United States
Apparently, this is not the first time that Russians are being involved in cyber attacks on the United States. Last year, they had a similar issue, which involved the theft of emails from the Democratic National Committee. However, the latest involved stealing of data that could be used to spy on a number of targets including the White House and military officials to executives at banks.
Nonetheless, it is more serious given that it was carried out by people who worked for an arm of Russia’s Federal Security Service. “The involvement and direction of F.S.B. officers with law enforcement responsibilities makes this conduct that much more egregious,” says the acting assistant attorney general, Mary B. McCord.
But officials believe criminal charges will deter cyber attacks
The theft of data included weakly encrypted passwords as well as accounts of several million military employees. The attack has occasioned the resignation of Yahoo’s top lawyer, Ronald S. Bell. It is also likely to interfere with a deal Yahoo had initiated with Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE:VZ) communications which involved the sale of its internet businesses.
However, the authorities are optimistic that all will be settled following the charges on the criminals. They are basing their confidence in earlier hackings the likes of China’s against United States targets. Meanwhile, Yahoo’s stock closed at $46.29 a fall of $0.08 or 0.17%.