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US Accuses Iranian Tech Firm And Its Employees For Coordinated Cyber Attacks
25 March 2018, 12:56 | Floyd Cook
US Charges 9 Iranians With Hacking A Wide Range Of US Targets
"Today, not only are we publicly identifying the foreign hackers who committed these malicious cyber intrusions, but we are sending a powerful message to their backers, the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran: Your acts do not go unnoticed", FBI Director Christopher Wray said in a statement.
While none of the charged hackers have been detained, Berman said the indictments would restrict their lives.
It contracted with both the Iranian government and private entities to conduct hacking activities on their behalf, and also specifically conducted the university spearphishing campaign for the IRGC.
They wanted to know why the DOJ wouldn't indict Russians but chose to indict Iranians instead.
There was no immediate response to the charges and sanctions in Iran's state-run media.
Geoffrey Berman, US Attorney for the Southern District of NY, said the Iranians conducted spearphishing attacks created to steal passwords from email accounts in one of the "largest state-sponsored" hacking schemes ever uncovered.
Over 100,000 professors worldwide were targeted in this manner, about half of them in the US. The men were involved in a scheme to obtain unauthorized access to computer systems, steal proprietary data from those systems, and sell that stolen data to Iranian customers, including the Iranian government and Iranian universities, the Federal Bureau of Investigation says.
Friday's actions are part of an effort by senior cybersecurity officials at the White House and across the USA government to blame foreign countries for malicious hacks.
It is now widely believed that the Trump administration will toughen its stance against Iran. The officials said the most likely retaliation would be denial of service attacks on websites, which are not destructive but disrupt commerce and communication.
Rosenstein and Justice Dept. officials would not name the 144 universities targeted by hackers in Iran, but numerous Midwestern universities are popular USA college destinations for Iranian students, including University of IL.
Friday's charges marks the fourth time in recent months that the Trump administration has blamed a foreign government for hacking. United States imposed unilateral economic sanctions on Iran and lobbied at UN for similar measures against Tehran.
"Since at least approximately 2013, the members of the conspiracy compromised thousands of accounts belonging to professors at victim universities and targeted academic data and intellectual property for theft, which, during the course of the conspiracy, cost the affected United States-based universities at least approximately $3.4 billion dollars to procure and access", the indictment states.
Universities from Australia, Canada, China, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Malaysia, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Singapore, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey and the United Kingdom were also affected.
The Justice Department said the hackers stole roughly 31 terabytes of academic research and intellectual property that was then sent to servers outside the United States for profit. The indictment alleges the stolen data was turned over to the Revolutionary Guard Corps and used to benefit Iranian private businesses.
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