A Canadian, who conspired with as well as aided the FSB, Russia’s spy agency, pleaded guilty this week to a huge hack in 2014 of Yahoo, said the U.S. Justice Department in a prepared statement.
Karim Baratov, who is 22, entered a guilty plea to charges a grand jury returned in California this past February.
Baratov as well as three other defendants, including a pair of officers from the Federal Security Service (FSB) in Russia, were charged with hacking and other offenses related to conspiracy to access the network of Yahoo that exposed over 500 million accounts.
Baratov’s guilty plea was released by Dana Beonte the Acting Assistant Attorney General, U.S. Attorney Brian Stretch and Paul Abbate the Executive Assistant Director of the Criminal, Cyber, Response and Service Branch of the FBI.
Prosecutors said that Igor Sushchin and Dmitry Dokuchaev two FSB officers directed the 2014 hack and had contracted Baratov.
As per his plea agreement, the role of Baratov in the conspiracy was hacking webmail accounts for individuals the FSB was interested in and sent the passwords for those accounts to Dokuchaev who would then pay him.
As the indictment alleges, three others compromised the network of Yahoo and gained access to Yahoo accounts. When they wanted access to webmail accounts of individuals, at several other internet service providers like Yandez in Russia and Google, Baratov was tasked by Dokuchaev to compromise the accounts as well.
The DOJ noted that Baratov admitted to hacking activities he committed working for the two FSB officers, and he admitted as well to hacking over 11,000 webmail accounts in all for the FSB and other clients between 2010 and March of 2017 when he was arrested in Canada.
In testimony he gave, Baratov said he advertised his different services on Russian-language internet sites. He admitted he generally spearphished victims, by sending them emails via accounts he had established that appeared as if they belong to a particular provider of webmail that the victim’s account had been hosted by.
Part of Baratov’s plea agreement says that in addition to any sentence for prison he faces, he will play restitution and a fine of $2,250,000 equal to $250,000 for each count, with assets that remain after the restitution award is satisfied.
Baratov did not fight extradition and is currently being held in a California jail without bail.
Baratov is schedule for sentencing on February 20, 2018.