Published: Fri, November 24, 2017
Culture | By Marion Pratt

'Game Of Thrones' HBO Hack: US Officials Charge Iranian National In Attack

'Game Of Thrones' HBO Hack: US Officials Charge Iranian National In Attack

An Iranian hacker stole info about unreleased "Game of Thrones" episodes from HBO servers - and then tried to "extort" the network, prosecutors alleged on Tuesday.

He demanded up to $7.91 million in extortion emails to HBO staff to keep the data secret, some of which ended with photos of the Night King, a menacing zombie villain from Game of Thrones, according to the indictment.

An Iranian national with ties to the country's military has been charged with hacking HBO's computer system and leaking several advance Game of Thrones scripts online this summer.

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According to the indictment, Mesri launched a campaign this past May to gain access to the entertainment giant's servers through employee user accounts and got his hands on new episodes of shows, including "Ballers", "Room 104" and "Curb Your Enthusiasm", as well as scripts for "Game of Thrones". The document notes Mesri, who also goes by the alias "Skote Vahshat", has worked for the Iranian military on hacks targeting Israel and that he belongs to an Iran-based hacking collective known as the Turk Black Hat. Kim said that Mesri sent emails to HBO threatening to release and/or destroy the data if they didn't pay.

"Mesri now stands charged with federal crimes, and although not arrested today, he will forever have to look over his shoulder until he is made to face justice", acting US Attorney for the Southern District of New York Joon Kim said in a statement.

"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 said he had taken a huge trove of data - approximately 1.5 terabytes - and provided proof of his claim. "Yes it's true! HBO is hacked.Beware of heart attacks".

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"He will never be able to travel outside of Iran without fear of being arrested and brought here", Mr Kim said. Just a year ago, he noted, the federal government charged seven Iranians with carrying out a cyber attack on dozens of United States banks on behalf of the Iranian government.

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).

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