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USA sanctions Iranians for hacking American, foreign colleges

25 March, 2018, 00:52 | Author: Priscilla Morrison
  • US Charges 9 Iranians With Hacking A Wide Range Of US Targets

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein today announced cybercrime indictments against nine citizens of the Islamic Republic of Iran, specifically "conspiring to hack into computers and defraud American and foreign universities, businesses, and government agencies".

"Mabna Institute employees can no longer travel freely, curtailing their career prospects outside of Iran".

Prosecutors add that at least five US government agencies, 36 private sector companies and two nongovernmental organizations were also targeted.

Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Qassemi has condemned the new U.S. sanctions against several Iranian nationals and an engineering company as an act of provocation, saying the policy will fail to prevent the technological progress of the Iranian nation, Press TV reported.

In Tehran, Bahram Ghasemi spokesman of the Foreign Ministry condemned the move and called it "provocative, illegal and without justification".

"We will not tolerate the theft of USA intellectual property, or intrusions into our research institutions and universities", said Sigal Mandelker, the Treasury under secretary for terrorism and financial intelligence.

Though the Iran-based hackers were outside the immediate reach of authorities in the US, Rosenstein said at least their public identification and imposing consequences would deal a heavy blow to the state-sponsored computer hackings.

US Attorney for the Southern District of New York Geoffrey Berman said, "Revealing the Mabna Institute's nefarious activities makes it harder for them to do business".

Nine hackers hired by Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard have been indicted by the United States after stealing as much as $4 billion worth of highly sensitive academic research from top universities in Britain, the U.S. and Europe.

The US Treasury Department said that it was placing sanctions on the nine accused individuals and the Mabna Institute, a company described by US prosecutors as created to help Iranian research organisations steal information.

The U.S. Justice Department said countries affected included European Union members Denmark, Finland, Germany, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom. The stolen data was largely acquired from universities, but academic journal publishers, tech companies, other private companies, government organizations, and the United Nations were targeted as well.

United States authorities have announced charges against nine Iranians who allegedly broke into the computer systems of 320 universities in 22 countries.

When the FBI learned of the attacks, FBI Deputy Director David Bowdich said in a news conference Friday, "we notified the victims so they could take action to minimize the impact". These links were in fact to a site on "a malicious Internet domain named to appear confusingly similar to the authentic domain of the recipient professor's university", the indictment states. He added: "The defendants stole research that cost those universities $3.2 billion to procure and maintain". That led some former intelligence officials to question whether the USA was opening the door for other countries to take similar actions against contractors who work for the US government.


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