Iranian Hacker Charged in HBO Breach

Feds charge Iranian hacker with stealing HBO files

This included confidential information on employees, unfinished scripts, emails and full episodes for some of the network's biggest shows, including Game of Thrones.

According to just-released charging documents, Mesri was a "self-professed expert in computer hacking techniques" who had worked on behalf of the Iranian military to attack military and nuclear software systems, as well as Israeli infrastructure.

He is accused of stealing proprietary info such as "Game of Thrones" scripts and summaries, as well as un-aired episodes of "Ballers", "Curb Your Enthusiasm" and "The Deuce". The decision to indict him is part of a "name and shame" strategy the US government has used in the past to try to curb the work of foreign hackers it doesn't expect to apprehend.

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Behzad Mesri, also known as "Skote Vahshat", was charged with the hack in a sealed indictment that was released on Tuesday by the U.S. Attorney's office in Manhattan. No actual Thrones video was ever leaked as part of this particular HBO hack, however.

In a statement, Kim said, "Mesri now stands charged with federal crimes, and although not arrested today, he will forever have to look over his shoulder until he is made to face justice". At the time, hackers said they stole 1.5 terabytes of data.

Between July 23 and July 29, Mesri tried to extort HBO executives through emails, with a ransom note eventually demanding $6 million worth of Bitcoin, according to the indictment.

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Last week, The Washington Post reported that national security prosecutors at the Justice Department were facing increased pressure to make public ongoing investigations involving Iranian officials. A news conference was planned for Tuesday afternoon to provide more details.

At the time, HBO said of the extortion scheme, "That's a game we're not going to participate in".

Several people familiar with the HBO hack case pointed out that the Justice Department will often wait a year - sometimes several years - before unsealing charges in an worldwide computer hacking probe, while this case was unsealed after three months.

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