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Iranian hacker Behzad Mesri charged after threatening to release scripts

24 November 2017, 01:06 | Clyde Nash

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Iran-Based Hacker Charged With Trying to Extort HBO

He has been indicted and charged with one count of wire fraud, one count of computer hacking, three counts of threatening to impair the confidentiality of information, one count of aggravated identity theft, and one count of interstate transmission of an extortionate communication.

Mesri is an alleged member of hacking group Turk Black Hat Security Team, and in the past, prosecutors say, has worked for Iran's military to attack Israeli computers and infrastructure.

NBC News reports Acting U.S. Attorney Joon Kim said there will be "real consequences" for Mesri.

Behzad Mesri, an Iran-based hacker, allegedly hacked into HBO servers in May, stole confidential company data over the course of several months, and then attempted to extort HBO for $6 million in Bitcoin, according to the indictment released by US prosecutors in Manhattan Tuesday morning.

Federal authorities have charged an Iranian who has ties to his country's military with hacking into HBO's computer system, stealing unaired episodes of hit shows and demanding millions in Bitcoin as ransom.

NBC's Holiday Line-up
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Behzad Mesri is accused of trying to extort HBO with stolen "Game of Thrones" scripts.

He demanded up to $7.91 million in extortion emails to HBO staff to keep the data secret, some of which ended with photos of the Night King, a menacing zombie villain from Game of Thrones, according to the indictment.

Prosecutors are expected to release more information at a news conference Tuesday afternoon.

Cyber experts are concerned Iran will refocus its hacker army on the USA if the Trump administration and Congress abandon the deal. Later, he allegedly posted a screenshot of the HBO logo online, with the words, "Winter is coming". He said he had taken a huge trove of data - approximately 1.5 terabytes - and provided proof of his claim. "HBO is hacked.Beware of heart attacks". He also compromised e-mail accounts for various HBO employees. 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". During the Obama administration, the USA charged five Chinese military officers for hacking American corporations to steal trade secrets and seven Iranian men for crippling bank websites with barrages of traffic, as well as infiltrating an upstate NY dam.

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