As was posted yesterday, the Department of Justice did indict four hackers believed to be involved with the massive data breaches that have plagued Yahoo over the past few years. The alleged hackers have been identified as Dmitry Aleksandrovich Dokuchaev, 33, Igor Anatolyevich Sushchin, 43, Alexsey Alexseyevich Belan, 29, and Karim Baratov, 22. Dokuchaev and Sushchin are said to be Russian intelligence agents while Belan and Baratov were hired by the aforementioned agents. The only one of the four to be arrested was Baratov since he was living in Canada at the time of his arrest. The other three suspects are currently in Russia which does not have an extradition treaty with the United States.
So while the hacks exposed hundreds of millions of Yahoo accounts, only a minority of those accounts turned out to be valuable to the hackers. Among those accounts were those of Russian journalists and cybersecurity experts. Considering Russia’s track record of allegedly targeting and suppressing opposition against the regime this should come as no surprise. Outside of Russia, targets included a Nevada gaming official, a high-ranking executive in a US airline and the CTO of a French transportation company.
For the average Yahoo Mail user this means that you probably weren’t targeted by the Russians and your Aunt Betty’s recipe for peach cobbler is probably safe, however, it is recommended that you update your password if you haven’t done so in a while or consider moving to a more secure platform that hasn’t been hacked to the tune of 500 million users.
On the geopolitical scale these hacks could be seen as the start of a new type of cold war where the battlefield is through cyberspace rather than blocs of puppet governments. While the battle may be contained to a confined virtual space that doesn’t make the possible outcomes any less concerning.