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LinkedIn Hack: Russian Suspect Charged To Court.

Yevgeniy Aleksandrovich Nikulin, the Russian who allegedly hacked and stole confidential information from computers at LinkedIn, has been charged to court in Oakland. The information was confirmed by United States Attorney Brian J. Stretch and Federal Bureau of Investigation Special Agent in Charge John F. Bennett.

He is also accused of hijacking computers at some other companies based in San Francisco Bay Area, U.S. Federal prosecutors announced on Friday.

The 29-year-old man from Moscow faced a grand jury on Thursday, and was indicted on charges which include computer intrusion and aggravated identity theft.

According to Data Breaches, “Nikulin is charged with three counts of computer intrusion, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1030(a)(2)(C); two counts of intentional transmission of information, code, or command causing damage to a protected computer, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1030(a)(5)(A); two counts of aggravated identity theft, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1028A(a)(1); one count of trafficking in unauthorized access devices, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1029(a)(2); and one count of conspiracy, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 371.”

Nikulin was arrested by security officials in Czech Republic on 5 October.

The Russian has remained a prisoner in Prague though Vladimir Putin’s government is said to be making efforts to ensure their citizen is not extradited to the United States of America.

He [the accused] sent a malicious program to an unsuspecting LinkedIn employee’s computer, before gaining access to the companies secured files.

According the report, prosecutors said Nikulin stole the employee’s username and password, and used them to access the company’s computers in 2012. The suspect is also accused of hacking two other companies – Dropbox and Formspring.

After a successful hack, the Russian tried selling a large number of stolen user names, passwords and email addresses of Formspring customers.

The Associated Press confirms that LinkedIn has suggested Nikulin’s arrest was connected to a 2012 hacking of its member information.

LinkedIn said earlier in May that the 2012 security breach was larger that it thought. More than 100 million of the company’s users’ passwords were compromised. A massive password reset operation was initiated afterwards.

Abraham Simmons, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office, declined to comment on whether the charges against Nikulin relate to that breach, AP wrote. He claims not to know the name of Nikulin’s attorney.

LinkedIn said in a statement it appreciated the FBI’s ongoing work to “pursue those responsible for the 2012 breach of LinkedIn member information.”

The indictment alleges three unnamed co-conspirators, one of whom offered to sell the stolen Formspring user information to another for 5,500 euros, or about $6,000 in current U.S. currency.

Meanwhile, the U.S. has maintained its stand on Russia being responsible for cyberattacks against American companies, an act it says is aimed at influencing the outcome of America’s upcoming 8 November presidential elections.

The case of LinkedIn’s cyberattack may not be connected to the presidential election until it is proven.

According to Data Breaches, “an indictment merely alleges that crimes have been committed, and all defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.”

Nikulin is facing the following maximum penalties, if convicted of the charges:

  • 18 U.S.C. § 371: Five years of imprisonment, $250,000 fine (or alternatively, twice the gross gain or gross loss, whichever is greater), three years of supervised release, $100 special assessment, forfeiture, and restitution.
  • 18 U.S.C. § 1028A(a)(1): Two-year mandatory minimum sentence of imprisonment to run consecutive to any other sentence and in addition to the sentence for the underlying felony, $250,000 fine (or alternatively, twice the gross gain or gross loss, whichever is greater), three years of supervised release, $100 special assessment, restitution.
  • 18 U.S.C. § 1029(a)(2) and (c)(1)(A)(i): Ten years of imprisonment, $250,000 fine (or alternatively, twice the gross gain or gross loss, whichever is greater), three of years supervised release, $100 special assessment, forfeiture, and restitution.
  • 18 U.S.C. § 1030(a)(2)(C) and (c)(2)(B): Five years of imprisonment, $250,000 fine (or alternatively, twice the gross gain or gross loss, whichever is greater), three years of supervised release, $100 special assessment, forfeiture, and restitution.
  • 18 U.S.C. § 1030(a)(5)(A) and (c)(4)(B)(i): Ten years of imprisonment, $250,000 fine (or alternatively, twice the gross gain or gross loss, whichever is greater), three years of supervised release, $100 special assessment, forfeiture, and restitution.
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