Yahoo Breach Indictments May Shed Light on Other Hacks

U.S. authorities may now be in a better position to figure out if Russian hackers and Russian spies swayed last year's presidential elections.

A scheme uncovered during a federal investigation into a huge Yahoo security breach may have opened a window into other hacks potentially instigated by foreign governments, according to computer security experts.

That includes a separate FBI investigation into whether the Russian government hired hackers to interfere with the November election that put President Donald Trump into the Oval Office.

"This makes you more optimistic that they will get to the bottom of what has been going on," said Robert Cattanach, a former Department of Justice attorney now in private practice.

In the Yahoo case unsealed Wednesday, the Department of Justice alleged that two Russian intelligence agents hired a pair of hackers to engineer a heist that affected at least a half billion user accounts.

In a scheme that prosecutors say blended intelligence gathering with old-fashioned financial greed, the four men targeted the email accounts of Russian and U.S. government officials, Russian journalists and employees of financial services and other private businesses, U.S. officials said.

Using in some cases a technique known as "spear-phishing" to dupe Yahoo users into thinking they were receiving legitimate emails, the hackers broke into at least 500 million accounts in search of personal information and financial data such as gift card and credit card numbers, prosecutors said.

"We will not allow individuals, groups, nation states or a combination of them to compromise the privacy of our citizens, the economic interests of our companies or the security of our country," said Acting Assistant Attorney General Mary McCord, the head of the Justice Department's national security division.

The case, announced amid continued U.S. intelligence agency skepticism of their Russian counterparts, comes as U.S. authorities investigative Russian interference through hacking in the 2016 presidential...

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