The Game of Thrones hacker has been identified and charged

Nov 23, 2017, 00:23
The Game of Thrones hacker has been identified and charged

The FBI is charging an Iranian man called Behmad Mezri for hacking into HBO, stealing 1.5 TB of data which included numerous shows and unaired episodes of Game of Thrones, ransoming this proprietary data, and then leaking it.

Joon Kim, the acting Manhattan U.S. attorney, said at a news conference that Mr. Mesri applied the skills he learned with the Iranian military to extort HBO for personal profit.

Mezri's pseudonym is "SkoteVashat" and he was allegedly part of an Iranian hacker group which goes by the name of Turk Black Hat.

According to the indictment, Mesri "is an Iran-based computer hacker who had previously worked on behalf of the Iranian military to conduct computer network attacks that targeted military systems, nuclear software systems, and Israeli infrastructure".

There is no extradition treaty between the United States and Iran meaning that if Mesri stays put, he's likely to remain a free man.

"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 hacker, Behzad Mesri, also known as "Skote Vahshat", was involved "in a scheme to obtain unauthorized access to the computer systems of Home Box Office, Inc". In July, he emailed HBO executives in NY providing evidence of the hack and demanding $5.5 million in digital currency, a figure later raised to $6 million, it says.

He also stole financial documents, credentials for HBO's social-media accounts and the emails of at least one HBO employee, the indictment said. He later raised the amount to US$6 million, according to prosecutors.

A spokesman for HBO said Tuesday that the company has been "working with law enforcement from the early stages of the cyber incident".

The indictment alleges that Mesri gained access to the HBO servers in May, getting his hands on hotly anticipated unaired episodes of Curb Your Enthusiasm and Ballers, and scripts from Game of Thrones season 7.

Mesri is accused of orchestrating a hack of HBO from May to August, then threatening to release stolen data unless the premium cable network paid a $6 million ransom in the digital currency Bitcoin.