Hacker pleads guilty to helping Russian spies obtain email credentials

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A hacker has pleaded guilty in a San Francisco court after being charged with aiding Russian spies in obtaining various email account credentials. 

Karim Baratov has pleaded guilty to both aggravated identity theft and conspiring to commit computer fraud and abuse.  He worked with Russian intelligence agents from the agency FSB to hack into email accounts from Google and Russia's biggest technology company Yandex.    

The FSB agents Baratov colluded with have a history of committing similar acts and were allegedly responsible for hacking Yahoo in 2014 to compromise 500 million user accounts.  Baratov himself is a Canadian national and he was indicted back in February with three other co-defendants working out of Russia.

US Attorney Brian Stretch offered further details on the extent of Baratov's crimes in a statement, saying: 

“The illegal hacking of private communications is a global problem that transcends political boundaries. Cybercrime is not only a grave threat to personal privacy and security, but causes great financial harm to individuals who are hacked and costs the world economy hundreds of billions of dollars every year. These threats are even more insidious when cyber criminals such as Baratov are employed by foreign government agencies acting outside the rule of law. With the assistance of our law enforcement partners in Canada, we were able to track down and apprehend a prolific criminal hacker who had sold his services to Russian government agents. This prosecution again illustrates that we will identify and pursue charges against hackers who compromise our country’s computer infrastructure.”   

While Baratov has plead guilty to his involvement, the other hackers accused in the Yahoo breach still remain at large in Russia. 

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