Iranian Man Charged in HBO Hack

Nov 21, 2017  •  Post A Comment

An Iranian national with ties to Iran’s military has been charged with computer fraud, wire fraud, interstate transmission of an extortionate communication and aggravated identity theft in connection with a hack of HBO back in July. The hack resulted in the leak of a script for an episode of “Game of Thrones” that had not yet aired, along with unreleased episodes of “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” “Ballers” and “The Deuce.”

“The alleged hacker, who the FBI identified as Behzad Mesri of Iran, demanded $6 million in bitcoin from HBO and threatened to release more sensitive content if the media company refused to pay up, according to an indictment unsealed Tuesday,” CNET reports. “The indictment came from a grand jury for the US District Court for the Southern District for New York.”

HBO wasn’t commenting on the charges, but noted that it has been working with authorities since the early stages of the hack. CNET quotes an HBO spokesman saying: “As far as the criminal case is concerned, we prefer to leave any comments to the US Attorney’s Office.”

The report notes: “Mesri, also known as ‘Skote Vahshat,’ is a highly skilled hacker who has worked for the Iranian military, attacking nuclear software, Israeli infrastructure and rival armies, according to the indictment. He has also been a member of the Turk Black Hat Security team, a hacking group based out of Iran that vandalized hundreds of websites around the world, the indictment states.”

CNET adds: “Mesri allegedly used his skills to stake out HBO employees starting in May and was able to hack several staffers who had remote access to the network’s servers, according to the court document. From there, Mesri was allegedly free to loot HBO’s treasure trove of videos, scripts and personal information.”

The report notes that “charges against hackers outside the US serve more as a symbolic measure for the Justice Department, sending a message that there will be consequences for cyberattacks.”

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