Iranian Hacker Charged with Extortion over HBO Cyberattack

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Acting US Attorney Joon Kim described Mesri as an experienced and sophisticated hacker who had also worked on behalf of Iran to attack military systems.

"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".

An Iranian man with ties to the country's military taunted HBO employees with the e-mail greeting "Hi All losers!" before announcing he'd stolen scripts to unreleased Game Of Thrones episodes and other sensitive data, USA prosecutors said.

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.

Mr. Kim said the government decided this was the right time to publicize charges against Mr. Mesri, after assessing whether there was a realistic chance of luring him outside of Iran to make an arrest. But at least HBO can have some amount of closure. "HBO is hacked!. Beware of heart Attack!"

The second e-mail included an image of the "Night King", a Game of Thrones character, with the message "Good luck to HBO".

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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.

In a statement Tuesday, HBO said it was working with law enforcement but declined further comment.

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

For entertainment companies, it isn't credit-card numbers at stake in a data breach but intellectual property and loss of business if spoilers of upcoming movies and TV shows are released early.

In a July 23 anonymous e-mail sent to HBO, Mesri allegedly threatened: "Yes it's true!"

You must remember HBO's rough summer of cyberhacks, extortion, and leaked material from various shows, including "Game of Thrones".

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