US officials charge Iranian man in 'Game of Thrones' hack

The indictment described the culprit as a "self-professed expert" in hacking who had worked on behalf of Iran's military to attack Israeli infrastructure.

By
November 21, 2017 18:12
Peter Dinklage

Cast member Peter Dinklage attends the premiere for the sixth season of HBO's "Game of Thrones" in Los Angeles. . (photo credit: PHIL MCCARTEN/REUTERS)

 
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United States prosecutors in the Department of Justice announced an Iranian national is being charged for hacking HBO in July and releasing scripts of the TV series Game of Thrones.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation identified the hacker as Behzad Mesri, a hacker who allegedly worked with the Turk Black Hat Security team, a group with ties to the Iranian military. The group has worked “on computer attacks against Israel,” according to NBC News. 

The indictment described Mesri as a "self-professed expert" in hacking who had worked on behalf of Iran's military to attack Israeli infrastructure.



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Mesri, also known as "Skote Vahshat," stole episodes of HBO shows Ballers, Room 104 and Curb Your Enthusiasm, as well as scripts for Game of Thrones, and demanded nearly $6 million in bitcoin currency from HBO in late July in an extortion attempt. He released the Game of Thrones scripts a week later.

The hacker sent an anonymous email to HBO, taunting, "Hi to All losers! Yes it's true! HBO is hacked! … Beware of heart attack!!!" During his communications with the network, he used an image of the Game of Thrones character Littlefinger, known for being a skilled manipulator.

Currently, Mesri is not in US custody, according to US officials.

The season finale of Game of Thrones drew 16.5 million viewers in August, according to Nielsen data.

Reuters contributed to this report.

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