Former Iranian military hacker behind Game of Thrones leaks

Erica Roy
November 24, 2017

USA prosecutors have charged an Iran-based hacker with penetrating the network of cable TV provider HBO and stealing episodes and plot summaries for unaired programs including "Game of Thrones", and then threatening to release the data unless he was paid $6 million.

Nytimes.com reports that Mesri has been charged with computer fraud, wire fraud, extortion and identity theft, according to an indictment unsealed Tuesday in United States District Court in Manhattan.

The government said Mr. Mesri, 29 years old, is a computer hacker in Iran who has worked on behalf of the Iranian military to target Israeli infrastructure and nuclear software systems.

Acting United States attorney Joon H. Kim said Mesri, who used the online name Skote Vahshat, "conducted his attack on HBO in a methodical way".

A lawyer for Mr. Mesri couldn't immediately be identified. In July, he emailed HBO executives in NY providing evidence of the hack and demanding $5.5 million in digital currency, a figure later raised to $6 million, it says.

"He now stands charged with federal crimes, and although not arrested today, he will forever have to look over his shoulder".

As Mesri is now in Iran, US officials have admitted arresting him will be hard. He also gained access to scripts from Ballers and Room 104. But at least HBO can have some amount of closure.

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The theft consisted of terabytes of information, which wasn't limited to scripts and unaired episodes.

The second e-mail included an image of the "Night King", a Game of Thrones character, with the message "Good luck to HBO". The hacker demanded $6 million in bitcoin from the media company and threatened to release more confidential information if his demands weren't met.

The hacking took place this year, just as season seven of the hit series was airing, and prosecutors allege Mesri began assessing HBO's online security systems in May.

He then leaked content to the world via websites under his control and a Twitter account.

"HBO has confirmed in the past that we were working with law enforcement from the early stages of the cyber incident", the network said in a statement.

It is unclear if HBO paid any part of the ransom to the hacker.

Other reports by GlobalViralNews

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