Russia jails head of notorious hacker group

(iStock)
(iStock)

Moscow - A Moscow court on Thursday jailed the leader of a notorious hacking group for two years for breaking into the accounts of high-ranking Russian officials.

Vladimir Anikeyev headed the Shaltai Boltai collective - Russian for "Humpty Dumpty" - believed to be behind high-profile hacks, including into the Twitter account of Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev.

Plea bargain

Anikeyev - who has been under arrest since October 2016 - was found guilty of gaining unauthorised access to computer data after a closed trial that was classified as "secret", the court said in a statement.

He was handed the two-year sentence after striking a plea bargain and agreeing to co-operate with the authorities.

Among those Anikeyev was accused of targeting were lead Kremlin propagandist Dmitry Kiselyov, presidential advisor Andrei Belousov and Medvedev's spokesperson Natalia Timakova.

In 2014 the group claimed credit for breaking into the Twitter account of premier Medvedev and posting messages saying he was quitting the government in shame to become a freelance photographer and criticising President Vladimir Putin.

The group was initially portrayed as an anti-Kremlin collective, with its eye-catching leaks of official emails leaving the authorities red-faced.

Security agency

But alleged members of the secretive collective have told media outlets that they made money by selling the hacked data to the highest bidder.

Anikeyev's arrest came at roughly the same time as the detention of several high-ranking cybercrime officials at Russia's FSB security agency, sparking speculation the cases were linked.

There has, however, been no confirmation.

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