2 Russian officials among those charged in giant Yahoo data breach

This is the first time the U.S. has filed cyber crime charges against Russian government officials.

Federal officials have charged four people – including two officers of the Russian Federal Security Service – who they believe are behind the giant data breach at Yahoo.

The U.S. Justice Department announced the charges Wednesday in connection to the 2014 data breach of 500 million Yahoo accounts. This marks the first time the United States has filed cyber crime charges against Russian government officials, The Associated Press reports.

According to Acting Assistant Attorney General Mary B. McCord, the two FSB officers – Dmitry Dokuchaev and Igor Sushchin – worked with co-conspirators Alexsey Belan and Karim Baratov to hack into computers of American companies and steal information about users.

Among those users were Russian and U.S. government officials, including cyber security, diplomatic and military personnel, McCord said. They also targeted Russian journalists, employees of financial services and other commercial entities.

"The criminal conduct at issue, carried out and otherwise facilitated by officers from an FSB unit that serves as the FBI’s point of contact in Moscow on cybercrime matters, is beyond the pale," McCord said in a statement.

The indictment against the four suspects includes charges of hacking, wire fraud, theft of trade secrets, and economic espionage, a news release says. One of the suspects has been arrested, while arrest warrants have been issued for the other three, officials said Wednesday.

The Washington Post says these charges are part of the largest hacking case ever brought by the U.S., but notes that these charges have nothing to do with the hacking of the Democratic National Committee and the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.

"Cyber crime poses a significant threat to our nation’s security and prosperity, and this is one of the largest data breaches in history," Attorney General Jeff Sessions said in a statement, adding: "The United States will vigorously investigate and prosecute the people behind such attacks to the fullest extent of the law.”

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