US slaps sanctions on Iranian organization, 10 individuals

US slaps sanctions on Iranian organization, 10 individuals”

The United States on Friday charged nine Iranians and an Iranian company with attempting to hack into hundreds of USA and global universities, dozens of companies and parts of the U.S. government on behalf of the Tehran government.

On top of targeting 144 US -based academic institutions, the hackers allegedly breached the systems of at least 176 universities across 21 countries, in 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.

"At the crux of this case is the fact that the government of Iran systematically and methodically hacked into our country's computer networks with the intent to steal as much information as possible", said Geoffrey Berman, interim US attorney in Manhattan where the case is being charged.

The Mabna Institute employed, contracted, and affiliated itself with hackers-for-hire and other contract personnel to conduct cyber intrusions to steal academic data, intellectual property, email inboxes and other proprietary data.

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstien said the stolen information was used by the Revolutionary Guard or sold for profit in Iran.

Due to the indictments, the named individuals will now risk arrest and extradition in over 100 countries and the sanctions will limit the business and financial transactions they can engage in. They are said to have breached more than 8,000 accounts and stole a whopping 31.5 terabytes of data.

The indictment was the latest effort in a years-long strategy by the U.S. to name hackers it believes are working for foreign governments.

US Charges 9 Iranians With Hacking A Wide Range Of US Targets

Once clicked, the malicious internet domains would display a website pretending to be the login page for the professor's university.

In the USA, the Justice Department announced charges against nine Iranians and listed them and the Mabna Institute for sanctions.

The indictment also lays out new economic sanctions aimed at both the nine individuals as well as the Shiraz-based Mabna Institute. "Any nation state, Iran in this case, can say these were rogue groups, but when there is overwhelming proof, the circumstantial evidence can pile up". The information that was stolen, which was sold through two websites to customers in Iran, cost US universities about $3.4 billion to procure and access.

Proponents of those schemes, sometimes called active defense or hacking back, say that companies need some limited hacking power-perhaps a go-ahead to destroy their own data after an adversary has stolen it-in order to deter the most brazen criminal and government-backed hacking campaigns.

In the case of universities, attackers targeted professors with well-crafted phishing attacks. Subject areas for the stolen research and intellectual property included science, technology and engineering, Rosenstein said, but he declined to describe specific research or technology that was stolen.

Iranian hackers with links to the Tehran government carried out a series of attacks on universities in an attempt to steal secrets, authorities in the United States and UK said.

The Justice Department said that besides targeting university professors in the United States, the hackers also compromised accounts in 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.

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