Russia jailed senior intelligence officers for helping CIA nab notorious hackers

FSB - JFTwo senior officers in the Russian intelligence services were charged with treason after they were found to have helped the United States catch two notorious Russian hackers, according to reports in the Russian media. Sergey Mikhailov was a career officer in the Federal Security Service —a descendant of the domestic section of the Soviet-era KGB— which is often referred to as Russia’s equivalent of the United States Federal Bureau of Investigation. Mikhailov had risen through the ranks of the FSB to eventually head the agency’s Center for Information Security. Known in Russia as CIB, the Center is tasked with investigating electronic crime in the Russian Federation.

But in December 2016, Mikhailov and one of his trusted deputies in the CIB, Dmitry Dokuchaev, were suddenly removed from their posts and arrested. The arrests marked some of the highest-profile detentions of intelligence officers in Russia since the demise of the Soviet Union. Russian authorities refused to reveal the reasons for the arrests, but confirmed that the two men had been charged with treason. Reports soon surfaced in the Russian media, claiming that Mikhailov and Dokuchaev were arrested for their involvement in a Russian criminal hacker gang. Some Western media, including The New York Times, speculated that the two men may have been arrested for helping US intelligence investigate Russian interference in the 2016 US presidential election.

But now a new report alleges that Mikhailov and Dokuchaev were charged with treason after helping the US Central Intelligence Agency catch two prolific Russian hackers. The report was aired on Russian television station TV Dozhd, also known as TV Rain, a privately owned channel based in Moscow, which broadcasts in Russia and several other former Soviet Republics. One of the hackers, Roman Seleznev, known in hacker circles as Track2, reached worldwide notoriety for defrauding major credit card companies of tens of millions of dollars. He was arrested in 2014 in the South Asian island country of Maldives and eventually extradited to the US to stand trial. He was sentenced to 27 years in prison, which he is currently serving. The other hacker, Yevgeniy Nikulin, was arrested in the Czech Republic in 2016, pursuant to a US-issued international arrest warrant. He is now awaiting extradition to the US, where he is expected to be tried for hacking several high-profile companies, including DropBox and LinkedIn.

TV Dozhd said that Russian authorities are also suspecting the men of being members of hacker gangs, but that their main charges relate to their close cooperation with American intelligence agencies, reportedly in exchange for cash.

Author: Joseph Fitsanakis | Date: 25 August 2017 | Permalink

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2 Responses to Russia jailed senior intelligence officers for helping CIA nab notorious hackers

  1. Pete says:

    This affair certainly underlines the understandable distrust between Russian and US intelligence on coordinating anti-hacker efforts.

    This underlines how foolhardy one of Trump’s early ideas was. See Intelnews 24 July 2017 article “After Trump, NSA director backs away from joint US-Russian cyber unit proposal” https://intelnews.org/2017/07/24/01-2144/ which, in part, states:

    “Earlier in July, US President Donald Trump said he was considering the establishment of what he described as “an impenetrable cyber security unit” that would be a joint project between the United States and Russia. The unit would have the task of defending both countries from cyber attacks aimed at hacking their election systems and other vital state functions. The US president said he had discussed the idea with his Russian counterpart, President Vladimir Putin, during the G20 summit in German city of Hamburg. “

  2. Peter says:

    Sergey Mikhailov was also the liaison officer in the anti-cyber crime cooperation between Russian FSB and the Dutch police, which started with a case trying to track the criminals behind the Zeus malware. For that, Dutch police conducted a somewhat controversial tapping of a Dutch hosting provider – more details: http://electrospaces.blogspot.com/2017/06/dutch-russian-cyber-crime-case-reveals.html#end

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