Manhattan prosecutors charge Iranian hacker over Game of Thrones sabotage

Manhattan prosecutors charge Iranian hacker over Game of Thrones sabotage

While this indictment doesn't directly accuse Mesri of working for the Iranian government, it does note that he "had worked on behalf of the Iranian military to conduct computer network attacks that targeted military systems, nuclear software systems, and Israeli infrastructure". This would seem to indicate that Mesri is in a whole heap of trouble, or at least he will be when USA officials actually detain him.

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. The alleged hacker, which the Federal Bureau of Investigation identified as Behzad Mesri, an Iranian citizen, demanded $6 million in bitcoin from HBO, threatening to release more sensitive content if the media company refused to pay up. He released the Game of Thrones scripts a week later. At one point, prosecutors said, Mr Mesri bragged he had stolen 1.5 terabytes of data. However, as Engadget points out, while this is a win for HBO legally, since the hacker does not reside in the United States, he has not yet been arrested.

In what Acting US Attorney Joon Kim called a "flair for the dramatic", Mr Mesri allegedly included doctored images of Game of Thrones characters, such as the Night King, in his emails.

In late July, Mesri began contacting HBO employees to inform them of his theft and demand ransom payment in exchange for not releasing the data.

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

The FBI announced charges against the hacker behind leaking HBO episodes during the summer.

From May to August, executive emails and the personal phone numbers, email addresses and home addresses of Game of Thrones Season 7 cast members, among them Emilia Clarke (Daenerys), Lena Headey (Cersei), Peter Dinklage (Tyrion) and Kit Harington (Jon Snow), were leaked online, in addition to multiple episodes of HBO shows. "That's a game we're not going to participate in", the company said in a statement.

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