Russia is in the news again. This time the issue is not what Trump may or may not have done there. It is what four Russians, two of them intelligence agents, did to yahoo in one of the largest data thefts ever. The crime took place in 2015 and five million accounts were involved. On the face of it, the case looks plausible. There were 47 criminal charges including aggravated identity theft.

Habeas corpus

The Russian security agency is called the FSB and two of its agents were charged, Dmitry Aleksandrovich Dokuchaev, 33, and Igor Anatolyevich Sushchin, 43.

The other two charged were Alexsey Alexseyevich Belan, 29, a Russian, and Karim Baratov, 22, a Kazakh national who lives in Canada. Baratov is a Canadian citizen. The acting assistant attorney general, Mary B. McCord, called the cyber crime "beyond the pale." It is not clear what she meant, though she seems to be expressing confidence in the results of the US investigation.

Double injury

Yahoo was injured not only by the attack but by its lackadaisical response. The New York Times revealed the conclusion of an internal report which said Yahoo “failed to properly comprehend or investigate." That report led to the resignation of the company's main lawyer and the loss of a bonus and stock compensation by Yahoo head Marissa Mayer.

The Times also noted an even bigger breach involving a billion Yahoo accounts. This theft took place in 2013. It was not reported by the company until three months ago. That cannot have increased confidence in an institution that has been perceived as trying to find its way for some time.

Once near or at the top

Yahoo was at one point preeminent as a home and search giant on the booming new web.

It was passed by Google and Facebook and other makers of today's cyber world, and the company seemed to lose its way. A venture called Associated Content came and went. Subsequent efforts seemed more stabs in the dark than signs of a serious plan.

Now Verizon may be in the mix. Yahoo and Verizon have been dickering for some months about a sale.

At press time it was not clear whether a recent agreement on a price to enable the sale will be finalized. It seems likely because Verizon has been said to have an interest in feathering its own nest through association with a venerable enterprise.