US Charges Iranian Over 'Game of Thrones' Hack

Ivan Schwartz
November 23, 2017

An indictment unsealed Tuesday in federal court in Manhattan accuses Behzad Mesri of hacking into the cable network's computer system in NY.

The hacker has now been identitfied as Iranian Behzad Mesri, and according to Variety, he is being charged with "seven criminal counts, including computer hacking and fraud; wired fraud; interstate transmission of an extortionate communication; and aggravated identity theft".

Kim said Mesri also had a history of hacking on behalf of the Iranian military.

Mesri is accused of orchestrating a hack of HBO from May to August, then threatening to release stolen data unless the premium cable network paid a $6 million ransom in the digital currency Bitcoin.

He also stole scripts and plot summaries for unaired episodes of Game Of Thrones and other shows, confidential lists of cast and crew contact information, financial documents, credentials and e-mails from at least one HBO employee, prosecutors say.

"He will never be able to travel outside of Iran without fear of being arrested and brought here", he added. When the amount wasn't paid, three days later Mesri told HBO that the amount had now risen to $6m and as an additional punishment, data could be wiped from HBO's servers.

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In a statement Tuesday, HBO said it was working with law enforcement but declined further comment.

He is accused of compromising multiple user accounts, and in July of sending an anonymous email to HBO personnel saying: "Hi to All losers!"

He then demanded $6 million to not leak the data. "HBO is hacked!. Beware of heart Attack!"

The indictment, filed in NY, alleges that in July this year Mesri stole "confidential and proprietary data belonging to HBO, including video files of unaired episodes of Ballers, Barry, Room 104, Curb Your Enthusiasm and The Deuce".

For entertainment companies, it isn't credit-card numbers at stake in a data breach but intellectual property and loss of business if spoilers of upcoming movies and TV shows are released early.

HBO is a growth engine for Time Warner, generating $4.65 billion in revenue in the first nine months of the year, about 21% of the company's total revenue.

Other reports by GizPress

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