HBO data theft traced to Iranian military hacker

Ruben Ruiz
November 22, 2017

United States prosecutors have charged an Iranian national with hacking into cable TV network HBO and stealing episodes and plot summaries for unaired programs including "Game of Thrones", then threatening to release the data unless he was paid $6 million.

Behzad Mesri is believed to still be in Iran but the charges send a message to everyone who attacks USA targets, said officials. The decision to indict him is part of a "name and shame" strategy the USA government has used in the past to try to curb the work of foreign hackers it doesn't expect to apprehend.

Mesri has worked for the Iranian military to launch cyberattacks against Israel and has been a member of a Tehran-based hacking group called Turk Black Hat Security, which has conducted hundreds of website defacements against USA sites. They also said he was a member of the Iranian-based Turk Black Hat Security hacking group, targeting hundreds of websites in the United States and around the world.

One of those targets was reportedly HBO. He also allegedly took scripts and plot summaries for unaired programming, such as episodes of "Game of Thrones", confidential cast and crew contact lists, employee emails, financial documents and online credentials for HBO social media accounts.

In July, he began sending taunting emails to HBO executives, prosecutors said. No actual Thrones video was ever leaked as part of this particular HBO hack, however.

'He will never be able to travel outside of Iran without fear of being arrested and brought here, ' Kim said.

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"It has been widely reported that there was a cyber incident at HBO".

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

"We made that determination that we were not likely to be able to get him and we should go public with it, " Kim said.

"Over the course of several months, Mesri used that unauthorized access to steal confidential and proprietary information belonging to HBO which he then exfiltrated to computer servers under his control", the Federal Bureau of Investigation said.

Other reports by GizPress

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