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DOJ Charges Three in ‘Historic’ Data Breach

(CN) - Three men, two from Vietnam and one from Canada, have been charged in connection with what the U.S. Justice Department describes as the largest data breach of names and email addresses in the history of the Internet.

According to federal prosecutors, between February 2009 and June 2012, Viet Quoc Nguyen and Giang Hoang Vu hacked into eight U.S.-based email service providers to steal over a billion email addresses. They then are alleged to have used them to send out spam marketing emails that netted them some $2 million in revenue.

Canadian David-Manuel Santos Da Silva, co-owner of a company called 21 Celsius Inc., has been charged with helping Nguyen and Vu generate revenue from the stolen information and launder the proceeds.

"This case reflects the cutting-edge problems posed by today's cybercrime cases, where the hackers didn't target just a single company; they infiltrated most of the country's email distribution firms," said Acting U.S. Attorney John Horn of the Northern District of Georgia.

"And the scope of the intrusion is unnerving, in that the hackers didn't stop after stealing the companies' proprietary data - they then hijacked the companies' own distribution platforms to send out bulk emails and reaped the profits from email traffic directed to specific websites," Horn said.

Vu was arrested by Dutch law enforcement officers in Deventer, Netherlands, in 2012, and extradited to the United States in march 2014. He pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit computer fraud on Feb. 5, 2015. He is scheduled to be sentenced on April 21 by U.S. District Judge Timothy Batten Sr. of the Atlanta Federal Court.

Da Silva was arrested at the Ft. Lauderdale International Airport on Feb. 12, 2015, and is scheduled to be arraigned on Friday before Magistrate Judge E. Clayton Scofield III in Atlanta.

Nguyen remains at large.

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