The U.S Justice Department is reportedly set to announce on Wednesday (Mar. 15), its plans to indict at least four Russian spies allegedly involved in a series of hack attacks on Yahoo! data, Bloomberg reports.
The hacks, which took place in 2014, came into the public eye last year. The Justice Department alleges the hackers masterminded a massive online security breach that compromised nearly one billion Yahoo! user accounts as well as other accounts on Flickr, Tumblr, and fantasy sports sites. Furthermore, the hacks hindered Yahoo!’s web operations deal with Verizon Communications Inc.
The indictments targets two members of the Russian intelligence agency FSB and two hackers who were hired by the organization, The Washington Post confirms. The charges include: hacking, wire fraud, trade secret theft, and economic espionage, according to officials, who spoke with the Post on anonymity due to sensitive nature of the case. One of the alleged hackers was reportedly arrested in Canada Tuesday (Mar. 14) and is scheduled to appear in court on Wednesday for an extradition hearing, an officer of the court in Hamilton, Ontario.
In the past four years, Yahoo! has been hit with at least two major data breaches. In addition to the 2014 incident, Yahoo revealed another breach that affected around 500 million customer accounts in Sept. 2016. That attack came on three years after hackers reportedly stole confidential information including email addresses, passwords, and dates of birth in 2013. The stolen information could have allowed the cyber thieves to access more personal information from users online.
Subsequently, the various hacks have led to a series of management changes at the Yahoo! house. General Counsel Ronald Bell exited the company, after it was disclosed he had enough information about the security breaches to sanction further investigation into the matter. Chief Executive Officer Marissa Mayer also received financial reprimands for not doing all that she could once the breach was discovered. A number of other key executives were censured as well.