Karim Baratov is shown in a photo from his Instagram account.THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Instagram

Canadian hacker sentenced to 5 years for major Yahoo security breach

American investigators say Karim Baratov unwittingly worked for Russian spies

A Canadian young computer hacker who American investigators say unwittingly worked for Russian spies was sentenced to five years in prison Tuesday for his role in a massive security breach at Yahoo that U.S. federal agents say was directed by a Russian intelligence agency.

U.S. Judge Vince Chhabria also fined Karim Baratov $250,000 during a sentencing hearing in San Francisco.

Baratov, 23, pleaded guilty in November to nine felony hacking charges. He acknowledged in his plea agreement that he began hacking as a teen seven years ago and charged customers $100 per hack to access web-based emails. U.S. prosecutors allege he was “an international hacker for hire” who indiscriminately hacked for clients he did not know or vet, including dozens of jobs paid for by Russia’s Federal Security Service.

Baratov, who was born in Kazakhstan but lived in Hamilton, charged customers to obtain another person’s webmail passwords by tricking them to enter their credentials into a fake password reset page.

RELATED: Charges against Canadian arrested in Yahoo hack may be ‘politically motivated’: lawyer

He was arrested in Hamilton in March 2017 under the Extradition Act after American authorities indicted him for computer hacking, economic espionage and other crimes.

After Baratov’s guilty plea, his lawyers told reporters he hacked only eight accounts and did not know that he was working for Russian agents connected to the Yahoo breach.

“He’s been transparent and forthright with the government since he got here,” lawyer Andrew Mancilla said at the time.

In August 2017, Baratov decided to forgo his extradition hearing to face the charges in California. His Canadian lawyer at the time said that the move was to speed up the legal process.

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.”

They said Russian security service hired Baratov to target dozens of email accounts using information obtained from the Yahoo hack. Prosecutors argued that Russia’s Federal Security Service targeted Russian journalists, U.S. and Russian government officials and employees of financial services and other private businesses.

Baratov and his lawyers also said his work with the Russia spy agency was unwitting.

RELATED: Canadian accused in Yahoo hack posed ‘extremely high flight risk’: documents

The court documents allege Baratov claimed he could access webmail accounts maintained by Google and Russian providers such as Mail.Ru and Yandezx. He would provide customers with a screenshot of the hacked account and promised he could change security questions so they could maintain control of the account.

The U.S. Justice Department also charged two Russian spies with orchestrating the 2014 security breach at Yahoo to steal data from 500 million users. Dmitry Aleksandrovich Dokuchaev and Igor Anatolyevich remain at large and prosecutors believe they are living in Russia, which doesn’t have an extradition treaty with the United States.

He is alleged to have collected more than $1.1 million in fees, which he used to buy a house and expensive cars.

“Deterrence is particularly important in a case like this,” the judge said during the hearing. He rejected prosecutors call for a prison sentence of nearly 10 years, noting Baratov’s age and clean criminal record prior to his arrest.

Lawyer Amedeo DiCarlo, who represented Baratov while he was in Canada, said in an email that Baratov is satisfied with the court’s decision.

“The judge used all criteria possible to assist Karim and, given the time he had already served and the time expected to serve, he will be out in approximately three years,” DiCarlo said. ”The justice system worked for a man who took responsibility and I’m sure he learned many lessons.”

Baratov has been in custody since his arrest last year. He told the judge Tuesday that his time behind bars has been “a very humbling and eye-opening experience.”

He apologized to those he hacked and promised “to be a better man” and obey the law upon his release. The judge said it is likely Baratov will be deported once he is released from prison.

The Associated Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Ladysmith business recognized for supporting diversity in the workplace

Ladysmith Home Hardware, Ladysmith Pharmasave, LRCA, and Maya Norte saluted

Editorial: Looking back at windstorm helps us prepare for next time

BC Hydro says it was the most destructive storm in its history

Competition offers $2,000 to Ladysmith and area playwright

Yellow Point Drama Group continues focus on supporting and nurturing local arts scene in 2019

Editorial: Federal byelection, if it happens, is no reason for voter fatigue

If indeed a byelection is called to choose a Nanaimo-Ladysmith MP, we might as well embrace it

Two of Chemainus photographer Marston’s images picked among National Geographic’s 2018 elite

Rare double honour from the 36 best Your Shots out of nearly 19,000 photos

Keep focus on helping Canadians at home, Trudeau tells MPs at start of meeting

Trudeau said the Liberals will offer Canadians hope amid issue like climate change and global tensions

Patriots make 3rd straight Super Bowl, beat Chiefs 37-31 in OT

New England will meet L.A. Rams in NFL title game

Truck convoy honouring Nanaimo boy who died after being struck by vehicle

Trucks left from Victoria and others joined along the way up the Island

Support pours in for Vancouver Island couple whose home was destroyed by massive blaze

GoFundMe page reached $10,000 in one day for soon-to-be parents

12 poisoned eagles found in Cowichan Valley

Improper disposal of euthanized animal suspected

Pettersson returns to lead Canucks to 3-2 win over Red Wings

Vancouver’s super rookie has 2 points in first game back after knee injury

Skaters stranded in Saint John, NB, amid storm on last day of championships

More than half of the flights out of the city’s airport were cancelled due to the weather

Call for tighter bail rules after Saudi sex-crime suspect vanishes

Mohammed Zuraibi Alzoabi was facing charges related to alleged sexual assault, criminal harassment, assault and forcible confinement of a woman

Olympic softball qualifier to be held in B.C.

Tournament is to be held Aug. 25 to Sept. 1

Most Read