DOJ names Iranian as hacker who stole unaired episodes from HBO


Included in the alleged cyber robbery: unaired episodes of Thrones, Ballers, Curb Your Enthusiasm and Bill Hader's upcoming series Barry, as well as scripts, plot summaries, emails, financial information and other documents.

Despite the charges, Mesri has not been arrested.

Cyber experts are concerned Iran will refocus its hacker army on the USA if the Trump administration and Congress abandon the deal. Mesri has not been arrested at this time, but acting U.S. Attorney Joon H. Kim suggests "he will forever have to look over his shoulder until he is made to face justice". Nevertheless, the Post suggests that this news may have geopolitical ramifications: "The push to announce Iran-related cases has caused internal alarm, according to people familiar with the discussions, with some law enforcement officials fearing that senior Justice Department officials want to reveal the cases because the Trump administration wants Congress to impose new sanctions on Iran". He added, with a nod to Game of Thrones: "Winter has come for Behzad Mesri".

Mesri has worked for the Iranian military to launch cyberattacks against Israel and has been a member of a Tehran-based hacking group called Turk Black Hat Security, which has conducted hundreds of website defacements against USA sites.

NBC's Holiday Line-up
NBC's Holiday Line-up

According to the indictment, Mesri is a "self-professed expert in computer hacking techniques, and had worked on behalf of the Iranian military to conduct computer network attacks that targeted military systems, nuclear software systems, and Israeli infrastructure".

"HBO was on [e] of our hard targets to deal with but we succeeded", he wrote in one July 23 email, according to the indictment. He had allegedly hacked several HBO staffers who had remote access to its servers. He said he had taken a huge trove of data - approximately 1.5 terabytes - and provided proof of his claim. Not long after, he reportedly upped his ransom demand to $6 million.

Phrases like "HB-Old is Dying...." and "HBO is Falling" can be clearly seen in the screengrab (the site was back to normal within an hour of the original hack). Additionally, Kim declined to say whether or not the network ever offered to pay the ransom fee.

The FBI said he used his skills to stake out HBO employees starting in May, looking for weak points to break into the company's servers.

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