Published: Sat, March 18, 2017
Economy | By Melissa Porter

Charges Announced in Massive Cyber Intrusion Case

Charges Announced in Massive Cyber Intrusion Case

The FBI says this was a cyber breach directed by Russian intelligence agencies using cyber mercenary and they say the indictment is unprecedented.

Kerry Carter, a neighbour of Baratov's, said he moved in about two years ago and was known in the neighbourhood for driving expensive cars and throwing loud parties. And the other defendant, "Karim Akehmet Tokbergenov", 22, is a Canadian and Kazakh national and lives in Canada. The U.S. has issued warrants for their arrest. He was an associate of FSB officer Dmitry Dokuchaev, 33.

In 2011, Dokuchaev was identified by the pseudonym "Forb" in the Russian-language magazine Hacker.

"The Russians are pretty much No. 1 in terms of using criminal organization as partners", Michael Chertoff, former U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security, told USA TODAY in a phone interview.

Dokuchaev is the FBI's point of contact for hacking in Moscow, which, according to acting assistant attorney general Mary McCord, made the offence "even more egregious".

It's said the spies used the hacks to target journalists and dissidents, while the criminals would get the email data to carry out spam campaigns for financial gain.

Also indicted was Dokuchaev's superior, Igor Sushchin, 43. He also reaffirmed Russia's denial of any official involvement in hacking.

The FSB hasn't commented, and the Justice Department did not confirm that. "Russian Federation has always expressed interest... in cooperation in the field of countering cybercrime and ensuring cybersecurity, we believe that this is one of the priorities in our time", the presidential spokesman said.

Baratov's Facebook profile links to a Russian-language company website for Elite Space that offers a "server in Russia with any configuration and unlimited traffic" and "persistent domains in China".

Russia's technical universities are among the world's best and the country each year produces a bumper crop of highly-skilled graduates.

The charges could change that calculation on the part of the hackers, and the intelligence services.

"WikiLeaks works with insiders, it works with the Russians", Lewis said.

Soldatov pointed to the Russian military operations in Ukraine that used local proxies and private contractors, describing it as a tactic helpful to Kremlin officials "because it allows them to deny responsibility".

The indictments take away the fig leaf that Russia is not involved in these activities and lay out in stark relief the Russian system of offering protection from prosecution for criminals who work for the government on the side, say experts. He is being held in custody, and Virk said he could not say where, or by whom. The FSB is Moscow's main intelligence and law enforcement agency.

Rivalries between these groups mean they are constantly vying for the Kremlin's favor.

Other accounts compromised by the hackers belonged to employees of commercial entities, such as a Russian investment banking firm, a French transportation company, USA financial services and private equity firms, a Swiss bitcoin wallet and banking firm and a US airline, according to the Justice Department.

"The Toronto Fugitive Squad was contacted by a number of agencies looking for their help with this very large global investigation".

"Our job was to locate and arrest one of the people", police spokesman Mark Pugash said. Now I am free and don't owe anyone anything. You can't have any career growth.

This report includes material from Reuters and the Associated Press.

Senator John Warner of Virginia, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, said in a statement the indictments showed "the close and mutually beneficial ties between the cyber underworld and Russia's government and security services". This helped the FSB zero in on which accounts to go after.

The case further blurs the lines between the Russian government and cybercriminals.

The compromised accounts may have affected more than just email. And the indictments, Dembosky said, helped wrest a pledge in 2015 from the Chinese to stop economic cyberespionage against USA firms.

Bogachyov is one of the kingpins in Russia's cyber community, according to Kaspersky Lab's Gostev.

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