Iranian military hacker fingered for 'Game of p0wns' HBO leak

Oscar Cross
November 24, 2017

The hacker in this instance is Behzad Mesri from Iran, and has previously worked for the Iranian military, according to the DOJ.

The US Attorney's office in Manhattan charged Behzad Mesri, also known as "Skote Vahshat", with a role in the hack that simultaneously enraged and captivated fans of the show during its seventh season.

In his hack-and-extort campaign against HBO, Mesri identified locations the company's staff used for remote access, compromised "multiple user accounts" of staff and contractors, and from there, logged into HBO's systems, the indictment said. No actual Thrones video was ever leaked as part of this particular HBO hack, however.

"Hi to all losers!" one read. As the Washington Post notes, the indictment "does not allege he attacked HBO on behalf of the Iranian government" and seems to indicate that he was instead inspired by avarice.

It's unknown if HBO paid its hackers any money, but the stolen HBO files began leaking on July 30.

Mesri is accused of stealing unaired episodes of the shows "Ballers", "Barry", "Room 104", "Curb Your Enthusiasm," and "The Deuce"; scripts and plot summaries of unaired episodes of "Game of Thrones"; cast and crew contact lists; financial documents; and online credentials for the company's social media accounts.

In what Acting US Attorney Joon Kim called a "flair for the dramatic", Mr Mesri allegedly included doctored images of Game of Thrones characters, such as the Night King, in his emails.

"HBO was on [e] of our hard targets to deal with but we succeeded", he wrote in one July 23 email, according to the indictment.

"He will never be able to travel outside of Iran without fear of being arrested and brought here", Mr Kim said. HBO received emails that indicated the information and episodes were being held for ransom, and that they would be released and/or destroyed if the cabler did not pay, Kim said, adding that HBO did not make payments.

In a statement, Kim said, "Mesri now stands charged with federal crimes, and although not arrested today, he will forever have to look over his shoulder until he is made to face justice".

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