Former Yahoo engineer pleads guilty to hacking 6,000+ user accounts
A former Yahoo Inc. employee has pleaded guilty to hacking into more than 6,000 Yahoo personal accounts as well as gaining access to Google LLC, Facebook Inc. and iCloud accounts in search of sexual images and video.
Reyes Daniel Ruiz, 34, from Tracy, California, worked as a reliability engineer at Yahoo for more than 10 years on products such as Yahoo! Mail. Using that access, Ruiz was able to use an exploit to crack user passwords and gain access to users’ accounts, from which he then stole any video and pictures he found.
With access to those accounts, he also gained access to accounts held by users on other services by requesting password resets. Then he once again searched for videos and pictures.
The accounts targeted by Ruiz primarily belonged to young women, including work colleagues and personal friends.
His downfall came from not covering his tracks. Yahoo discovered suspicious account activity, which it traced back to him, subsequently reporting the findings to law enforcement. The Department of Justice said in a statement that Ruiz destroyed the computer and hard drive he had been storing the images on in an attempt to hide his activities.
Ruiz was indicted by a federal grand jury on April 4. Originally facing multiple charges, Ruiz instead pleaded guilty to a charge of computer intrusion with a maximum penalty of five years in jail and a $250,000 fine as part of a plea deal. The sentencing hearing is scheduled for Feb. 3, with Ruiz now out on bail of $200,000.
The hacking and data breach, though concerning especially given that it came from a Yahoo employee, is on the opposite end of the spectrum when it comes to Yahoo hacks. The company, now owned by Verizon Media, still holds the distinction of the biggest data theft of all time: 3 billion accounts in 2013.
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