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HBO Ransomware Hacker Discovered

Posted by Sean McCabe on November 27, 2017 at 2:57 PM

You should never think that cyber-crime isn’t a big deal. The massive HBO hack from this past summer, which lead to the early leak of Game of Thrones scripts and full episodes of Curb Your Enthusiasm, just to name a couple of HBO programs affected, has lead to charges being filed against the man accused of the attack.

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The U.S. District Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York has filed charges against Behzad Mesri for his involvement in this Ransomware attack. Mesri and his cohorts tried to extort HBO for $6 million in bitcoin. This indictment reveals that HBO was compromised between the months of May and July 2017. The leak also included internal HBO emails and personal information. Unauthorized access was gained through a number of HBO employee user accounts. Mesri is charged with one count of wire fraud, one count of computer hacking, one count of aggravated identity theft, three counts of threatening to impair the confidentiality of information, and one count of interstate transmission of an extortionate communication.

The Iranian national has yet to be apprehended and extradited to the United States, but he is now on the FBI's Most Wanted list for his role in the hack. Leaked emails revealed that the cable network offered $250,000 to stop the exposure of sensitive info, but the thieves never backed down from their demand of $6 million. Prosecutors are claiming that Mesri had previously worked for the Iranian military and conducted computer network attacks against the Israelis. He is also said to be part of an Iranian hacking group called the Turk Black Hat security team. This shouldn’t come as a major surprise, as countries all over the globe are now engaged in a cyber-warfare.

This attack is not to be confused with the HBO social media accounts hack by a group known as OurMine. Unlike the Iranian "black hat" hackers, OurMine engages in hacks in ordert to expose security flaws in systems of major corporations. They also hacked the Twitter accounts of Wikipedia co-founder Jimmy Wales, Pokémon Go creator John Hanke, Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey, Google CEO Sundar Pichai and Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg.

If Behad Mesri is apprehended and found guilty of these charges, he could face decades in prison for his cyber-crimes. The Iranians claim to have stolen 1.5 terabytes of data from HBO, and what was leaked onto the internet was only said to be a fraction of what they had actually stolen. Other TV networks and film studios will have to face the reality that this type of brazen behavior is only the beginning.


Topics: hackers, ransomware

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