Two officers from the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) and two Russian hackers are being charged over a mega data breach at Yahoo, the Justice Department has announced, stressing that the charges do not allege Russian involvement in the DNC hacks.
A grand jury in California charged the four defendants with computer hacking, economic espionage, and other criminal offenses.
The department has accused the four defendants of illegally accessing information about millions of subscribers from Yahoo, Google, and other webmail providers.
"Dmitry Dokuchaev and Igor Sushchin, both FSB officers, protected, directed, facilitated and paid criminal hackers to collect information through computer intrusions in the United States and elsewhere," Mary McCord, the acting assistant attorney general, said during a press conference.
McCord said the indictment alleges the two Russian FSB agents were acting on behalf of their agency.
"There are no free passes for foreign state-sponsored criminal behavior," McCord said.
The indictments represent the first time the US has brought criminal charges against Russian officials for cyber offenses.
She went on to accuse the FSB agents of working "with co-conspirators Aleksey Belan and Karim Baratov 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.”
The Justice Department alleged that Belan's "notorious criminal conduct and a pending Interpol Red Notice" did not result in him being detained by FSB officers Dokuchaev and Sushchin.
"Instead of detaining him, [they] used him to break into Yahoo's networks," the department alleged.
The Department went on to accuse Belan, who is on the FBI's list of most-wanted cyber criminals, of using his relationship with the FSB agents and access to "line his own pockets with money."
Belan has been previously indicted twice in the US, for three intrusions into e-commerce companies. He has been one of the FBI's most-wanted cyber criminals for more than three years.
The 2014 breach affected some 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.
The department said the operation began at least as early as 2014, adding that conspirators lost access in September 2016. They continued to use information until December.