Game Of Thrones 'HBO' Hacker Has Been Finally Identified And Charged
24 November, 2017, 01:10 | Author: Pamela Mathis
Mesri, who uses the online handle Skote Vahshat, said he would release the material and destroy data unless he was paid $5.5 million in Bitcoin currency, the indictment charges.
"Today's charges make clear that nation-states, like Iran, routinely employ alleged criminals, mercenaries, like Mesri, to conduct network attacks in America and elsewhere", Kim said.
USA prosecutors say a member of an Iran-based hacking group tried to extort HBO out of $6 million in digital currency by stealing unaired episodes and scripts of hit shows like "Game of Thrones".
Documents show how Mesri began research into HBO's computer networks and staff in May 2017.
The acting USA attorney for the Southern District of New York Joon H. Kim said that Mesri would not be able to leave Iran without risking arrest and extradition to the US. But at least HBO can have some amount of closure.
Court papers accuse Mr Mesri of threatening HBO and demanding to be paid "a "non-negotiable" ransom" - approximately $6m (£4.5m) worth of Bitcoin. The email allegedly provided evidence that the hacker had successfully stolen proprietary data from HBO, a unit of Time Warner Inc. "HBO is hacked!. Beware of heart Attack!" Included was an image of "Game of Thrones" Night King character, leader of an army of zombies, with the words, "Good luck HBO".
But there is nothing in the indictment suggesting Mesri targeted HBO on behalf of Iran's government or with its financial support, said Collin Anderson, a USA -based internet researcher who specializes in Iran.
He then leaked content to the world via websites under his control and a Twitter account.
Earlier this year, HBO was the victim of a hacking incident.
There is also the potential for damaging correspondence to become public.
In a July 23 anonymous e-mail sent to HBO, Mesri allegedly threatened: "Yes it's true!"
The hack and its fallout has been a headache as HBO's parent company, Time Warner, tries to complete its sale to AT&T Inc.
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