Iranian Man Indicted for HBO Hack, Extortion Scheme

Jay Jacobs
November 24, 2017

According to a statement from the U.S. Attorney's office, Behzad Mesri allegedly hacked into HBO's computer servers, stealing proprietary data, including information about then-unreleased episodes of Game of Thrones, and then allegedly sought to extort the premium cabler. Kim also added that the fact that Mesri is wanted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation will make traveling outside of Iran's borders hard.

He breached several user accounts in the network and stole data from servers, later asking for a ransom worth a total of $6 million in Bitcoin.

The high-profile hack played out publicly over the summer, as the unknown perpetrators leaked the script of an episode from the eighth season "Game of Thrones" before it aired.

Prosecutors charged Mr Mesri with computer fraud, wire fraud, extortion and identity theft.

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The indictment charges Behzad Mesri, who had, according to a press release from the USA attorney, "previously worked on behalf of the Iranian military" with the act.

Mesri, a member of the Iran-supported Turk Black Hat Security team, conducted "hundreds of website defacements" in the US and across the world, prosecutors said. The indictment, however, is part of a "name and shame" strategy the US has used in the past to quell interference by foreign hackers it doesn't expect to be turned over. Nevertheless, the attorney said, the indictment sent a message to Mr Mesri and all other hackers that "they are not safe behind the anonymity of computer screens".

Emails, financial balance sheets, employment agreements and marketing strategies, were listed among the 1.5 terabytes of data claimed to have been stolen by the then-unnamed hackers. He was not, however, working for the Iranian government when he allegedly hacked HBO. "Yes it's true! HBO is hacked.Beware of heart attacks".

Mesri has also been accused of defacing numerous HBO-affiliated pages, like the network's Giphy page (above). The FBI has been unable to arrest him because he remains in Iran, Mr Kim said on Tuesday. Just previous year, he noted, the federal government charged seven Iranians with carrying out a cyber attack on dozens of U.S. banks on behalf of the Iranian government.

Other reports by TheDailyFarc

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