The U.S. Justice Department has formally charged an Iranian man for hacking HBO, The Verge reported. Via a public filing, the Justice Department detailed the charges filed against Bezhad Mesri, who is also known by the pseudonym “Skote Vashat” online.
The Justice Department filing identifies Mesri as a “self-professed expert in computer hacking techniques” who “worked on behalf of the Iranian military to conduct network attacks target military systems, nuclear software systems, and Israeli infrastructure.”
Prosecutors with the U.S. allege that Mesri accessed HBO’s servers through hijacked employee accounts. He is then alleged to have stolen unaired episodes of several shows, including Game of Thrones.
The U.S. government also explained that Mesri demanded payment in return for not releasing the videos. Mesri allegedly requested up to $6 million in bitcoin as ransom.
Justice Department charges against Mesri follow the much-publicized release of various HBO shows this past summer. Mashable reported in August that a hacker identifying himself as “Mr. Smith” had sent the site the end of Game of Thrones Season 7.
HBO lost around 1.5 terabytes of data in the this past summer’s data breach.
The Justice Department may face difficulties attempting to extradite Mesri for prosecution. However, the charges filed against Mesri are serious. In all, the government lodged seven counts filed against Mesri, including multiple counts of threatening to impair the confidentiality of information, unauthorized access to a computer network, aggravated identity theft, and wire fraud.
Sam Cook is a full-time content strategist by day, a part-time freelance content writer since 2015. In another life, he was a high school English teacher for nearly a decade. Based in sunny New Orleans, he writes long-form educational content on technology, including Insurtech, Fintech, HRtech, and content streaming. He loves whittling down complex ideas within these areas that make decisions easier for buyers. When he’s not reading books with his son Miles and playing video games with the family, you can find him immersed in his growing collection of Euro-style board games.