Court Jails Accused Yahoo Hacker For Five Years

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While the US government has little chance of getting the others extradited from Russian Federation, it used the announcement of the indictment to make a public and detailed case that Moscow is orchestrating criminal hacks and shielding those who commit them. In November, he pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit computer fraud and identity theft.

Baratov was named in a federal indictment past year that charged two Russian spies with orchestrating the 2014 Yahoo breach involving 500 million users.

Mr. Baratov wasn't believed to have been involved in the Yahoo hack itself but was a hacker-for-hire used as part of a broader information-gathering operation tied to Russian Federation, according to prosecutors. Baratov was indicted in late February 2017 along with three other men who remain in Russian Federation. He acknowledged hacking thousands of webmail accounts for seven years ending with his arrest last year.

Meanwhile, U.S. prosecutors said in court papers that Baratov's Russian-language website named "webhacker" advertised services for "hacking of email accounts without prepayment".

Yahoo suffered a major data breach in 2014.

Targets included Russian and United States government officials, cybersecurity, diplomatic and military personnel, journalists, companies and financial firms.

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"Deterrence is particularly important in a case like this", the judge said during the hearing.

Baratov and his attorneys also said his work with the Russian Federation spy agency was unwitting.

In court documents, Baratov claimed he could access web-mail accounts maintained by Google and Russian providers such as Mail.Ru and Yandex. Prosecutors said they believe the two are living in Russian Federation, which doesn't have an extradition treaty with the United States. Authorities believe he earned around $1.1 million from the deal and that he used the money to buy a house and cars. He would provide his customers with a screenshot of the hacked account and promised he could change security questions so they could maintain control of the account.

Baratov was initially supposed to receive his sentencing last month, but the judge presiding over the case wanted more time to hear arguments on the sentence's length.

Karim Baratov, aka Kay, aka Karim Taloverov, aka Karim Akehmet Tokbergenov, was sentenced on Tuesday, the Department of Justice said in a statement. But he rejected prosecutors' call for a prison sentence of almost 10 years, noting Baratov's young age and clean criminal record prior to his arrest. "There is no excuse for my actions", he said, adding that "all I can do is promise to be a better man".

The prosecution asked the judge to take into consideration that Baratov was also behind many other hacks for which he was not formally charged, but which he carried out through his website. "We will identify them wherever they are and bring them to justice", said assistant US Attorney General John Demers.