A 22-year-old Canadian national arrested for his alleged role in stealing webmail user credentials in February entered a guilty plea in a US District Court for hacking activities on behalf of Russia's FSB and the breach of 11,000+ webmail accounts for the Russian federal security service, the US Department of Justice announced today.
Karim Baratov — aka Kay, Karim Taloverov, and Karim Akehmet Tokbergenov — is one of four defendants charged in connection with the 2014 Yahoo cyberattack. The other three defendants are Russian nationals and remain at large: Igor Sushchin, an undercover Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) agent; Dmitry Dokuchaev, a former FSB officer who was arrested by the FSB for treason; and Alexsey Belan, a well-known Russian hacker.
In his guilty plea, Baratov confirmed his role in the theft of webmail accounts of people identified by the FSB and then sending those stolen credentials to Dokuchaev. Dokuchaev, Sushchin, and Belan had hacked into Yahoo's network and compromised user accounts there, while Baratov stole credentials from users with Google Gmail and Yandex email accounts. He used mostly spearphishing to breach webmail accounts on behalf of the FSB between around 2010 until March 2017, when he was arrested.
"This case is a prime example of the hybrid cyber threat we're facing, in which nation states work with criminal hackers to carry out malicious activities," says Executive Assistant Director Paul Abbate of the FBI's Criminal, Cyber, Response, and Services Branch.