US Department of Justice formally sanctioned an Iranian company and nine Iranian nationals for broad, worldwide hacking schemes against government outlets, universities, energy concerns, and private companies. Among the over half dozen hackers named was the alleged perpetrator of the Home Box Office (HBO) compromise and subsequent bitcoin ransom. The wildly popular HBO drama, Game of Thrones, was scooped up in 1.5 terabytes of stolen data, and threatened with pre-season leaks unless demands for millions of dollars in cryptocurrency were met.
Game of Thrones Bitcoin Hacker Named and Shamed in DOJ Iranian Sanctions
By summer of last year, HBO announced it had been hacked. Terabytes of data stolen included closely held unaired episodes of its Emmy-award winning fantasy drama Game of Thrones (GOT). It’s the largest known media hack of its kind, seven times that of the notorious 2014 Sony data compromise. Soon after, partial leaks made their way around, prompting demands towards HBO for upwards of six million dollars in bitcoin or suffer the entire GOT season being distributed online.
In November of 2017, Iranian Behzad Mesri was indicted by US authorities for the GOT affair. Mr. Mesri has been linked directly to the HBO hacks, though his ties to the Iranian government remain loose at best — rumors are he might have been part of the Revolutionary Guard. The indictment accused Mr. Mesri of taking part in the Turk Black Hat Security division of the Iranian military, which had special emphasis on cyber attacking Israel.
Reports at the time said there was little chance he would be turned over to the US, and so the Department of Justice (DOJ) engaged in a name and shame campaign. Mr. Mesri was given his own ”Wanted”-poster, and the lead agent announced in GOT lingo how “Winter has come for Behzad Mesri. He will never be able to travel outside of Iran without fear of being arrested and brought here to face these charges. The memory of American law enforcement is very long.” […]