A former Yahoo software engineer has admitted to hacking thousands of Yahoo users’ online accounts in order to find sexual images and videos for his personal use.
Reyes Daniel Ruiz, 34, of Tracy, California, pleaded guilty on Monday to one count of computer intrusion after admitting to cracking the passwords of about 6,000 Yahoo accounts to gain access, the U.S. Attorney’s office in the Northern District of California announced.
Ruiz, who faces up to five years in prison for the hack, said he primarily targeted younger women, including his personal friends and work colleagues.
Yahoo is owned by Verizon Media, which also owns HuffPost.
Once inside their accounts, Ruiz said he made copies of the users’ private images and videos and then stored the data at his home. He would also use their account information to then compromise their iCloud, Facebook, Gmail, DropBox and other online accounts in search of more private images, prosecutors said.
Ruiz said he destroyed the computer and hard drive where he stored the images after his employer caught onto his illicit activity.
Ruiz was indicted by a federal grand jury on April 4 on charges of computer intrusion as well as interception of a wire communication. That second count was dropped as part of a plea deal.
After Ruiz left Yahoo, he was employed for less than a year by San Francisco-based software company Okta. Okta, in a statement to HuffPost, said it was unaware of the allegations against him at the time of his hiring last October and that he was fired after his indictment was made public.
“The privacy and security of our customers is our top priority, and immediately upon learning of the indictment, Ruiz’s access was revoked and Okta worked with a third party to conduct a forensic analysis, which confirmed that no company or customer data was compromised,” a spokesperson for the company said.
A spokesperson for Verizon Media declined to comment.
In addition to prison time, Ruiz faces a maximum $250,000 fine and restitution. His sentencing hearing is scheduled for Feb. 3, 2020.