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Yahoo hack: Russia’s FSB not involved in cyberattacks, Kremlin says

Official Russian agencies, including the Federal Security Service (FSB), have nothing to do with cyberattacks, Kremlin press secretary Dmitry Peskov said responding to the US Justice Department’s charging of two FSB officers over a data breach at Yahoo.

“We have repeatedly stated that there can be absolutely no question of any official involvement of any Russian agency, including the FSB, in any unlawful actions in cyberspace,” Peskov said on Thursday.

READ MORE: US indicts Russian FSB officers over 2014 Yahoo hack

On Wednesday, the US Justice Department announced that two FSB officers and two Russian hackers are being charged over a mega data breach at Yahoo with criminal offenses, including computer hacking and economic espionage.

Peskov also pointed out that Russian authorities found out about the charges against Russian citizens from the media instead of official channels, despite Moscow repeatedly stressing its readiness to cooperate in cybersecurity.

“We learned about this situation from the media, as far as we know, we did not receive any information from official channels, so unfortunately we do not have the details. Russia 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.

The DOJ has accused the four defendants – FSB officers Dmitry Dokuchaev and Igor Sushchin, and hackers Aleksey Belan and Karim Baratov – of illegally accessing information about millions of subscribers from Yahoo, Google, and other webmail providers.

The FSB agents were accused of working “with co-conspirators to hack into computers of American companies providing email and internet-related services, to maintain unauthorized access to those computers and to steal information, including information about individual users and the private contents of their accounts.” This is the first time the US has brought criminal charges against Russian officials for cyber offenses.

The case refers to a 2014 breach that affected around 500 million Yahoo users, along with at least 18 users of other service providers, including Google. Yahoo announced the breach in September 2016, stating at the time that it was working with law enforcement authorities and believed the attack was state-sponsored.

Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova believes the indictments against Russian nationals for the alleged breach of Yahoo accounts might be another example of the ‘Russian hackers’ theme within internal US political struggles.

“I also can’t exclude that it’s simply an attempt to distract attention from the latest WikiLeaks revelations,” Maria Zakharova added, noting that Western capitals do everything possible to stop further discussion of the bombshell WikiLeaks revelation that the CIA actively developed “hacking tools” to compromise billions of everyday electronic devices.

Previously, the US government accused Russia of hacking the Democratic National Committee’s (DNC) computer networks, alleging that Moscow was attempting to “interfere” with the 2016 presidential election – an allegation which the Kremlin has repeatedly denied.

The hack resulted in a leak of thousands of emails and attachments from the DNC, published by WikiLeaks. Despite Washington’s allegations that Russia was behind the hack, no hard evidence has ever linked the leaks to Russia.

The Justice Department explicitly denies any connection of the DNC hack to the latest indictment.