Iranian hacker charged in HBO 'Game of Thrones' theft

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Mesri, who uses the online handle Skote Vahshat, said he would release the material and destroy data unless he was paid $5.5 million in Bitcoin currency, the indictment charges.

Mesri, who is not in USA custody, previously worked for the Iranian military to conduct computer attacks against defence systems, nuclear software systems and Israeli infrastructure, according to an indictment returned by a grand jury Nov 7 and unsealed on Tuesday (Nov 21).

U.S. prosecutors have charged an Iran-based hacker with stealing content from HBO, including unaired episodes of "Game of Thrones", according to an indictment obtained by Reuters.

According to the complaint, Mesri's attempt to hack into HBO network began around May and lasted till approximately August of 2017.

But Mesri is now in Iran, and United States officials have accepted that it would be hard to detain him. But at least HBO can have some amount of closure.

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Earlier this year, HBO faced a setback in the form of a massive hacking attack on its internal servers that resulted in the theft of 1.5 terabyte data. The email concluded with an image of the Night King, a character from "Game of Thrones", and said: "Good luck to HBO".

What do you think is a suitable crime for a hacker like Mesri? The hacker demanded $6 million in bitcoin from the media company and threatened to release more confidential information if his demands weren't met.

He then leaked content to the world via websites under his control and a Twitter account.

When contacted by WorldPost, HBO spokesman Jeff Cusson declined to comment.

In recent years, hackers have increasingly used cyber extortion - or stealing corporate secrets and threatening to publicize them if the victims don't pay a ransom - as a way to make money, with Hollywood studios as particularly attractive targets, experts say. The hack at HBO happened nearly three years after a high-profile breach at Sony Corp., which unleashed a trove of emails that embarrassed top executives.

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