HBO hack linked to Iranian military

Hacker Behzad Mesri has been named on an indictment released today (November 21)

A hacker affiliated with the Iranian military is at the centre of charges relating to this summer’s HBO hack.

The US TV network suffered leaks earlier this year, when scripts for Game Of Thrones and early episodes of shows including Curb Your Enthusiasm were unleashed online.

Federal prosecutors announced charges against one individual earlier today (November 21). Behzad Mesri is accused of breaking into HBO’s computer network in the hopes of extorting millions of dollars from the channel.

As The Washington Post reports, an indictment noted Mesri “had worked on behalf of the Iranian military to conduct computer network attacks that targeted military systems, nuclear software systems, and Israeli infrastructure.” It does not claim he attacked HBO on behalf of the Iranian government.

Mesri, who the indictment claims “was a member of an Iran-based hacking group called the Turk Black Hat security team”, is currently not in custody. Officials are reportedly in the process of preparing a “Wanted” poster to help with his arrest.

The authorities think Mesri was motivated by greed, with the indictment stating he threatened to embarrass HBO by leaking releasing unaired episodes of the likes of Ballers and The Deuce, alongside the Game Of Thrones scripts unless the channel paid a “‘non-negotiable’ ransom of approximately $5.5 million worth of Bitcoin.”

The price was later raised to $6 million when his earlier demand was not met. He reportedly then threatened to destroy volumes of data on HBO’s hard drives.