US charges Iranian man with HBO hacking

The US has charged an Iran-based hacker with accessing HBO’s computer systems, stealing data and attempting to extort millions of dollars

US authorities have charged Behzad Mesri in connection with the theft of 1.5TB of data from US television network HBO and demanding $6m in ransom.

The self-professed hacking expert, also known as Skote Vahshat, is accused of computer fraud, wire fraud, extortion and identity theft.

There is no extradition treaty between the US and Iran, which means Mesri is unlikely to be sent to the US to stand trial, but acting Manhattan US attorney Joon Kim said Mesri will never be able to travel outside of Iran without fear of being arrested and taken to the US.

“American ingenuity and creativity is to be cultivated and celebrated – not hacked, stolen and held for ransom,” he said in a statement. “For hackers who test our resolve in protecting our intellectual property – even those hiding behind keyboards in countries far away – eventually, winter will come.”

According to the indictment, Mesri has worked for the Iranian militray to conduct computer network attacks against Israel, and as a member of Iran-based hacking group Turk Black Hat Security, carried out defacements of websites in the US and other countries around the world.

Mesri is believed to have obtained unauthorised access to HBO’s computer systems around May 2017, and compromised multiple HBO user accounts to steal confidential and proprietary information.

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