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Russian spies are behind the Yahoo data breach, says the DOJ

Two Russian spies and two hired hackers face a combined total of 47 criminal charges.

Kimberly White/Getty Images for Fortune

Today the Department of Justice charged four individuals, including two Russian spies and two other criminal hackers, with the 2014 theft of 500 million Yahoo users’ account information — one of the largest data breaches in history.

This is the first time criminal charges have ever been issued against Russian government officials for a cyber attack.

The DOJ says the two Russians being charged, Dmitry Dokuchaev and Igor Sushchin, are officers of the Russian Federal Security Service. The two other individuals indicted today, Alexsey Belan and Karim Baratov, were paid by the Russian spies to hack into American companies, according to the DOJ.

The criminal hackers stole information about individual users and the contents of their accounts, targeting U.S. government officials, Russian journalists, employees of other internet firms the hackers wanted to infiltrate and employees of financial companies, Mary McCord, the acting assistant attorney general for national security, said in a press conference today.

The four men face a combined total of 47 criminal charges, including economic espionage, theft of trade secrets and aggravated identity theft, among others detailed in a statement from the DOJ.

Recode broke the story of Yahoo’s massive 500 million user data breach in September of last year, which was confirmed by Yahoo the following day.

“The indictment unequivocally shows the attacks on Yahoo were state-sponsored,” said Chris Madsen, assistant general counsel at Yahoo, in a statement. “We are deeply grateful to the FBI for investigating these crimes and the DOJ for bringing charges against those responsible.”

There is nothing at this time to suggest that the individuals involved in the Yahoo breach have links to the hack of the Democratic National Convention servers in the lead-up to the 2016 U.S. election, McCord said at today’s briefing.

Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer gave up her cash bonus from 2016 and stock award for 2017, which may amount to about $14 million, as a result of the massive hack; Yahoo’s head lawyer, Ron Bell, lost his job.

According to a March 13 Security and Exchange Commission filing, in February Verizon suggested a $925 million reduction in price for its deal to buy Yahoo following the revelations about the data breach. The companies later agreed to $350 million price reduction.

Correction: This article has been updated to correct details of the details of the price reduction.

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