Amid accusations of election interference, the U.S. Justice Department has added more fuel to the Russia hacking scandal. On Wednesday Russia was accused of deliberately hiring hackers following an international call for their arrest.
On of those men was Alexsey Belan, who was wanted on charges of data theft and computer fraud in 2012 and 2013. He later played a role in the 2014 hack of 500 million Yahoo accounts, alongside two other Russian intelligence agents who hired him for the job.
This marks the first time the US has sought hacking charges against current Russian intelligence agents. Igor Sushchin and Dmitry Doskuchaev are the officials accused of the breach, alongside Belan and Karim Baratov.
The Justice Department claims:
“Instead of acting on the U.S. government's Red Notice and detaining Belan after his return, Dokuchaev and Sushchin subsequently used him to gain unauthorized access to Yahoo's network.”
Canadian citizen Baratov was arrested there on Tuesday, while Belan is currently under Russian protection.
Russia denies claims of involvement in the Yahoo hack, spokesperson Dmitry Peskov stating, “As we have said repeatedly, there can be absolutely no question of any official involvement by any Russian agency, including the FSB , in any illegal actions in cyberspace.”
However, U.S. officials say this isn't the first time Russia hired most-wanted criminals. The FSB allegedly houses Evgeniy M. Bogachev, the FBI's most-wanted hacker with a $3 million bounty.
Bogachev stole hundreds of millions of dollars from U.S. bank accounts via a virus that spread across thousands of computers. The FSB is thought to have hired the men to attack US and Russian government officials, diplomats, and more.
However, it seems unlikely that the agents or criminals in Russia will be charged. The DoJ says the nation has been uncooperative, but hopes that it will act as a deterrent to further attacks. Whatever the case, the charges suggest the US has significant evidence of Russian involvement.