Iranian charged with Game of Thrones hack

Iranian charged with Game of Thrones hack

Darren Sullivan
November 22, 2017

Federal authorities have charged an Iranian who has ties to his country's military with hacking into HBO's computer system, stealing unaired episodes of hit shows and demanding millions in Bitcoin as ransom.

Behzad Mesri is believed to still be in Iran but the charges send a message to everyone who attacks US targets, said officials.

Mesri is not in custody, and officials issued a "wanted" poster seeking help arresting him.

Mesri once worked for the Iranian government as a hacker, where he attacked nuclear software systems and Israeli infrastructure, according to the grand jury indictment released Tuesday.

According to the indictment, Mesri "was a member of an Iran-based hacking group called the Turk Black Hat security team".

When that demand wasn't met, he raised his asking price to $6 million and threatened to destroy massive volumes of data on HBO's hard drives, the indictment said.

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Mesri is accused of stealing unaired episodes of the shows "Ballers", "Barry", "Room 104", "Curb Your Enthusiasm", and "The Deuce"; scripts and plot summaries of unaired episodes of "Game of Thrones"; cast and crew contact lists; financial documents; and online credentials for the company's social media accounts.

On July 23, Mesri sent an email to HBO executives that read, "Hi to all Losers!"

'He will never be able to travel outside of Iran without fear of being arrested and brought here, ' Kim said. He was not, however, working for the Iranian government when he allegedly hacked HBO. Some of the leaked videos included a graphic of the "Game of Thrones" character the Night King with the message: "Winter is coming".

"It has been widely reported that there was a cyber incident at HBO". A news conference was planned for Tuesday afternoon to provide more details. "That's a game we're not going to participate in", the company said in a statement.

The FBI will announce chargers Tuesday against an Iranian national for hacking the servers of Home Box Office, Inc.

Several people familiar with the HBO hack case pointed out that the Justice Department will often wait a year - sometimes several years - before unsealing charges in an global computer hacking probe, while this case was unsealed after three months.