The first criminal case unmasking direct Russian ties to cyberhacking involves the massive security breach at Yahoo in 2014, yet the indictment announced by the Justice Department yesterday also is a disturbing reminder of the ability and the determination of our rival to steal sensitive information.
Justice Department officials declined to say whether there are any connections between the Yahoo case and the national security investigation of the Russian government for hacking during the 2016 presidential election. But the shoe fits.
Two of the four men charged were identified as members of the Russian intelligence service who allegedly conspired with master criminal hackers to gain access to the Yahoo accounts. U.S. officials say the purpose of the state-sponsored spying was to obtain information on Russian and American officials, dissidents and journalists. In return, the spies then allegedly funded the reputed career cybercriminals’ scheme to reap financial data from 500 million Yahoo accounts.
Accused master hacker Alexey Belan, a suspect in other cybercrimes, was one of those charged. He was among the Russians sanctioned by the State Department last December in retaliation for the election hacks. It’s unlikely Belan, still a fugitive, will ever spill his secrets.
But the Senate Judiciary Committee heard testimony yesterday that such espionage continues in current European elections as Vladimir Putin seeks to help friendly leaders gain power. Later in the day, the heads of the Senate Intelligence Committee got a highly classified briefing from FBI Director James Comey, but they refused to say whether the investigation has uncovered any ties to President Donald Trump. The cyberwars continue with Russia and in our government. — The editorial board