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22 November 2017, 12:23 | Ivan Casey
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.
Prosecutors said Mesri had worked on behalf of Iran's military to attack military systems, nuclear software systems and Israeli infrastructure.
The indictment said Mesri threatened to embarrass HBO by publicly releasing unaired episodes of some of their shows, such as "Ballers" and "The Deuce", as well as full scripts for the seventh season of "Game of Thrones", unless HBO paid "a "non-negotiable" ransom of approximately $5.5 million worth of Bitcoin".
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Behzad Mesri is believed to still be in Iran but the charges send a message to everyone who attacks US targets, said officials. He was not, however, working for the Iranian government when he allegedly hacked HBO. Mesri has been added to the FBI's "Most Wanted" list and Kim noted, "He will never be able to travel outside of Iran without fear of being arrested and brought here to face these charges".
Mesri is reportedly a member of the Turk Black Hat Security hacking team. The indictment alleges Mesri compromised several user accounts and over a period of months exfiltrated confidential information, including video files containing unaired episodes of HBO programs. At the time, hackers said they stole 1.5 terabytes of data. He 'promoted" the "Games of Thrones' leak by sending emails to the media.
Several people familiar with the HBO hack case pointed out that the Justice Department will often wait a year - sometimes several years - before unsealing charges in an worldwide computer hacking probe, while this case was unsealed after three months.
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Mesri is accused of orchestrating a hack of HBO from May to August, then threatening to release stolen data unless the premium cable network paid a Dollars 6 million ransom in the digital currency Bitcoin.
At the time, HBO said of the extortion scheme, "That's a game we're not going to participate in".
There will be a Federal Bureau of Investigation press conference on Tuesday at 12:30 p.m.to announce the charges against Mesri.
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