Today, an Iranian hacker named Behzad Mesri has been charged by a New York District Court with the attack he performed on November 8, 2017 against HBO's systems.
An indictment unsealed in NY on Tuesday said the suspect, Behzad Mesri, "had worked on behalf of the Iranian military to conduct computer network attacks that targeted military systems, nuclear software systems and Israeli infrastructure, " but the document does not allege he attacked HBO on behalf of the Iranian government. Mesri is accused of infiltrating HBO's networks and leaking internal company emails, as well as unreleased episodes and scripts for Game of Thrones, Curb Your Enthusiasm and Insecure. He has not been taken into custody and the feds are trying to track him down.
Behzad Mesri is believed to still be in Iran but the charges send a message to everyone who attacks US targets, said officials.
"For the rest of his life - and he's a relatively young man in his late 20s - he will never be able to travel outside Iran, " he said.
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They also alleged that he helped an Iranian hacking group, Turk Black Hat Security Team, deface hundreds of websites in the United States and other countries. The indictment did not say whether Mesri was working on behalf of the Iranian government when he hacked HBO. Executive emails, confidential cast and crew contact lists, financial documents, and online credentials for HBO's social media accounts were likewise compromised.
Prosecutors said Mesri threatened to destroy data on HBO's computer system or release the stolen material unless he received $6 million in Bitcoin. Not long after, he reportedly upped his ransom demand to $6 million.
"Unfortunately I suspect this will not be the last time that we charge cyber offenses against hackers with ties to the Iranian government", he said. However, as Engadget points out, while this is a win for HBO legally, since the hacker does not reside in the USA, he has not yet been arrested. Officials will hold a press conference to formally announce the charges Tuesday afternoon. "That's a game we're not going to participate in", the company said in a statement.