In the closing days of the 2016 election, Russian hackers were a familiar theme. One meme featured Hillary Clinton on the cover of a children's book titled “Everyone I Don't Like is a Russian Hacker.” A new report from the Justice Department, though, notes that Russians had more than nothing to do with at least one major incident: the 2014 hacking of Yahoo! that got 500 million accounts compromised.
The report noted that, following the hacking, two Russian intelligence officers took the information obtained and used it against a slate of targets from foreign journalists to business leaders and so on. Airline officials, cloud computing company executives, and even a Nevada casino regulator were all reportedly on the target block.
This revelation is said to be part of a larger government push into investigating other potentially Russian-driven cyberattacks like the email theft that took place at the Democratic National Committee. Reports noted the two hackers involved were using the Yahoo! data in a bid to go after credit card data, gift card data and the like from other accounts, as well as potentially part of a push on 50 different Google accounts. The two Russians are now, at last report, facing a 47-charge indictment.
This isn't the first time Yahoo! has taken a data breach; back in 2013, an even larger breach targeting around a billion accounts hit that Yahoo! was still investigating by some reports. Word was that Yahoo! hadn't been able to figure out much about who did that one or what the attack was targeting. The attacks very nearly destroyed a deal between Yahoo! and Verizon; though the deal ultimately went through, reports note, Verizon managed to get a fairly significant rebate in its purchase price as a result, getting a $350 million price reduction.
It's a fairly major development that one of the Yahoo! hacks can be traced back to Russian elements; after hearing the nigh-constant refrain of how Russian hackers were interfering in this and that for several weeks, finding out that Russian hackers actually were interfering in something is jarring to say the least. It's enough to make one wonder just what else the Russians were involved in, and is likely a point the Justice Department is already hard at work finding out.
The discovery of one hack may well lead to the discovery of several others. Conversely, the discovery of one may lead to the discovery that it was the only one. Only time will tell just how deep this particular rabbit hole goes, and seeing the bottom of it may reveal sights no one really wants to see.
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