DOJ Charges Former Iranian Military Hacker in HBO Data Theft

An Iranian hacker stole info about unreleased "Game of Thrones" episodes from HBO servers - and then tried to "extort" the network, prosecutors alleged on Tuesday.

The accusations against Mesri come as the Trump administration cracks down on hacking cases against US companies involving Iranian suspects.

"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.

USA prosecutors also say he was a member of the Iranian-based Turk Black Hat Security hacking group that targeted hundreds of websites in the United States and around the world.

Mesri, a member of the Turk Black Hat Society hacking group, has worked with Iran's military in creating all manner of cyber attacks targeting Israel, but in this case, it's not believed that the HBO hack went forward on behalf of Iran's government.

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.

According to the indictment, Mesri, aka "Skote Vahshat", engaged in the hack attack in the spring.

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Included in the theft were scripts for the shows "Game of Thrones", "Ballers", "Barry", "Room 104", "Curb Your Enthusiasm", and "The Deuce".

When that demand wasn't met, he raised his asking price to $6 million and threatened to destroy massive volumes of data on HBO's hard drives, the indictment said. No actual Thrones video was ever leaked as part of this particular HBO hack, however.

Last week, The Washington Post reported that national security prosecutors at the Justice Department were facing increased pressure to make public ongoing investigations involving Iranian officials.

Kim spent much of the news conference saying the indictment posed dire potential consequences for the suspect, Mesri, but he also admitted that they have little chance of arresting him anytime soon.

In a statement in August, HBO said that was not communicating with the hacker.

At the time, HBO said of the extortion scheme, "That's a game we're not going to participate in".

(Copyright © 2015. All Rights Reserved.)
 
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