Former Yahoo employee stole private photos of 6,000 girls

Threats to the privacy of users of any online service are not generated only by hackers outside the companies. Data protection specialists report that a former Yahooo software engineer has just pleaded guilty of compromising the accounts of thousands of Yahoo users in order to find sex images and videos, preferably of young women and co-workers.

According to US federal authorities, 34-year-old Reyes Daniel Ruiz has been accused of computer intrusion, leveraging the resources at his disposal in his work to crack passwords for about 6k Yahoo accounts. This information has been taken from reports from the Office of the Federal Attorney of the Northern District of California. “Ruiz admitted to court that he used the company’s internal systems to decrypt passwords and access thousands of accounts,” court reports mention.

Data protection experts report that the defendant even tried to hack into the accounts of many of his co-workers and close people. In his statement, Ruiz mentions that, upon feeling discovered, he was quick to destroy the computer and the hard drive where he stored the copies of the stolen content, according to reports from the authorities. 

Authorities also claim that Ruiz has admitted that he attempted to hack multiple Gmail, Facebook, iCloud, DropBox accounts, among other online services for the same purpose.

It seems that none of the affected people had detected any signs of the attack, until Yahoo detected multiple signs of anomalous activity in Ruiz’s work area, ordering their data protection team to begin an internal investigation, which triggered the discovery of the former employee’s malicious activities.

Reyes Ruiz is awaiting his sentencing hearing, scheduled for February 3, 2020. The former software engineer faces a sentence of up to five years in prison. 

Although this hacker’s motives are unknown, data protection experts from the International Institute of Cyber Security (IICS) mention that extortion is a common motivation in such incidents. A popular example is the case of actress Bella Thorne; a few months ago, a hacker stole some intimate photos of the actress, threatening to post them if she didn’t hand over a certain sum of money. Thorne decided to post these photographs on her Twitter account, ending the hacker’s intentions.

This variant of cybercrime, popularly known as “sextortion,” has grown inordinately recently, affecting both public figures and less popular people. Regardless of the case, a common factor in such cases is the few security measures that many people use in their online accounts. Most worryingly, however, the defendant was working in a major company where he had all the resources needed to compromise thousands of accounts.