DOJ charges 2 Russian hackers with targeting U.S. intel through phishing scheme

December 7, 2023

The Department of Justice said Thursday it had charged two Russian-based hackers with a phishing campaign targeting U.S. intelligence officials, including contractors at the Defense and State Departments.

A federal grand jury in San Francisco on Tuesday indicted Ruslan Aleksandrovich Peretyatko, an officer in Russia’s FSB intelligence agency, and Andrey Stanislavovich Korinets.

The DOJ said the pair, along with other unindicted conspirators, “employed a sophisticated spear phishing campaign to gain unauthorized, persistent access (i.e., ‘hack’) into victims’ computers and email accounts” between October 2016 and October 2022.

According to the DOJ, the two suspects undertook a campaign to hack into computer networks in the United States, the United Kingdom, other NATO member countries and Ukraine, all on behalf of the Russian government.

The pair are charged with one count of conspiracy to commit computer fraud and abuse, which is punishable up to twenty years in prison. Both suspects are currently wanted by the FBI and believed to be in Russia.

“The Russian government continues to target the critical networks of the United States and our partners, as highlighted by the indictment unsealed today,” said Assistant Attorney General Matthew Olsen. “Through this malign influence activity directed at the democratic processes of the United Kingdom, Russia again demonstrates its commitment to using weaponized campaigns of cyber espionage against such networks in unacceptable ways.”

He added that the DOJ will continue to “respond to such behavior with an even more determined commitment to disrupt those activities and to hold accountable the individuals responsible.”

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