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Notorious Russian Hacker With Links To FSB Scandal Sentenced To Prison


Vladimir Anikeyev
Vladimir Anikeyev

A notorious Russian hacker whose exploits and later arrest gave glimpses into the intersection of computer crime and Russian law enforcement has been sentenced to two years in prison.

The Moscow City Court issued its ruling July 6 against Vladimir Anikeyev in a decision made behind closed doors, one indication of the sensitivity of his case.

Anikeyev was head of a group of hackers known as Humpty Dumpty, or Shaltai Boltai in Russian. The group was accused of intruding into e-mail accounts and computer servers of Russian government officials, including the spokeswoman for Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev.

He was detained in November 2016, but his arrest only became public in January, along with the arrest of two officers with the cybercrime division for the Federal Security Agency (FSB).

Russia news reports said Anikeyev, who had been living in Ukraine, was detained at a Moscow airport after being lured back to Russia with an offer of payment for an unspecified hacking operation.

The two FSB officers -- Sergei Mikhailov and Dmitry Dokuchayev -- were charged with high treason, accused of passing classified information to U.S. intelligence. Mikhailov was reportedly arrested during a meeting of FSB officers in Moscow in December, taken from the room with a bag over his head.

The unit that the two worked in, the Center for Information Security, was the lead FSB division overseeing cybercrime and routinely cooperated with U.S. law enforcement to investigate and prosecute hackers and others.

At least three other people, including a former employee of the Moscow-based cyberresearch firm, Kaspersky Lab, have also been charged in the case.

The senior officer who headed the unit, Andrei Gerasimov, was reportedly pushed into early retirement, according to the Kommersant newspaper.

Another former member of the Shaltai Boltai group, Aleksandr Glazastikov, fled to Estonia. In an interview with Estonia’s public broadcaster published in February, and another published later in The Financial Times, he asserted that the group’s hacking activities had allegedly been overseen by the FSB cyberunit.

In March, U.S. prosecutors unsealed indictments against Dokuchayev and another officer in the FSB cyberunit for their alleged role in hacking Internet giant Yahoo and stealing information to 500 million user accounts in 2014.

Two other Russian-linked hackers were also charged in that announcement, including Aleksei Belan, whom the U.S. had been linked to the intrusions on the U.S. Democratic Party computers in early 2016.

The indictment also listed an unnamed FSB officer as being involved in the hack as well. Computer experts who have monitoring Russian hacking for years says that officer is believed to be Mikhailov.

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    Mike Eckel

    Mike Eckel is a senior correspondent reporting on political and economic developments in Russia, Ukraine, and around the former Soviet Union, as well as news involving cybercrime and espionage. He's reported on the ground on Russia's invasion of Ukraine, the wars in Chechnya and Georgia, and the 2004 Beslan hostage crisis, as well as the annexation of Crimea in 2014.

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