Game Of Thrones 'HBO' Hacker Has Been Finally Identified And Charged

Emilio Banks
November 24, 2017

"For hackers who test our resolve in protecting our intellectual property - even those hiding behind keyboards in countries far away - eventually, winter will come", acting Manhattan U.S. Attorney Joon H. Kim said.

The acting United States attorney for the Southern District of New York Joon H. Kim said that Mesri would not be able to leave Iran without risking arrest and extradition to the US.

USA prosecutors say a member of an Iran-based hacking group tried to extort HBO out of $6 million in digital currency by stealing unaired episodes and scripts of hit shows like "Game of Thrones".

Although the indictment doesn't allege Iran orchestrated the attack, Kim pointedly noted that Mesri honed his skills while working for the government in Tehran. The wire-fraud charge carries a possible sentence of up to 20 years in prison.

Court documents seen by the BBC state that Mesri began spying on the media giant's computer networks and its employees in May and after a couple of months he successfully broke into a number of user accounts, obtaining unrestricted access to the HBO servers.

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This Tuesday, federal prosecutors announced that they have opened the case against Behzad Mesri, whose aliases include Skote Vahshat and Mr. Smith.

HBO confirmed in July that its computer systems had been breached, with the hacker releasing a Game of Thrones script and episodes of HBO shows such as Ballers and Curb Your Enthusiasm. The email concluded with an image of the Night King, a character from "Game of Thrones", and said: "Good luck to HBO".

After HBO apparently refused to pay, Mesri began leaking portions of the stolen material on websites he controlled, the indictment says.

A spokesman with the US Attorney's Office said that Mesri had not been arrested, but declined to comment on the suspect's whereabouts. The hacker demanded $6 million in bitcoin from the media company and threatened to release more confidential information if his demands weren't met.

Rather than keep quiet, prosecutors say Mesri "undertook efforts to promote the leaks", actively seeking journalists to publicise the story.

Other reports by TheSundaySentinel

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