US charges 9 Iranians with massive cyber attacks

US charges 9 Iranians with massive cyber attacks
# 23 March 2018 17:39 (UTC +04:00)

The U.S. on Friday charged nine Iranians for conducting cyberattacks against hundreds of U.S. universities, companies and government entities and stealing massive amounts of data on behalf of Iran, APA reports quoting Anadolu Agency.

"The Department of Justice will aggressively investigate and prosecute the hostile actors who attempt to profit from America’s ideas by infiltrating our computer systems and stealing intellectual property," Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein said.

"This case is important because it will disrupt the defendants’ hacking operations and deter similar crimes.”

Rosenstein noted that the hackers, who carried out a sophisticated worldwide campaign since at least 2013, allegedly stole more than 31 terabytes of documents and data from more than 140 American universities, 30 American companies, five American government agencies and also more than 176 universities in 21 foreign countries.

Along with Iranian government, he also held the Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) responsible for the cyberattacks for gathering intelligence.

The charges include conspiracy to commit computer intrusions, wire fraud, unauthorized access of a computer and aggravated identity theft. They could carry a maximum sentence of upwards of four decades in prison.

The Treasury Department also designated the Iranians and the company they worked for, the Mabna Institute, for sanctions.

Describing the cyberattack as "the largest state-sponsored hacking campaign", U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman for the Southern District of New York said through the sanctions and charges against them, the hackers are no longer free to travel outside Iran without risk of arrest.

"The only way they will see the outside world is through their computer screens, but stripped of their greatest asset – anonymity,” Berman added.

The move by the Justice and Treasury departments came at a time of tension with Tehran as President Donald Trump announced plans to replace National Security Adviser Gen. H.R. McMaster with John Bolton, known for his relentless opposition to Iran.

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