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9 Iranians charged in massive hacking of U.S. universities and businesses

A years-long hacking mission led by a group of Iranians penetrated computer systems at hundreds of U.S. universities, companies, and federal organizations.

by Taylor Dolven
Mar 23 2018, 4:01pm

A years-long hacking mission led by a group of Iranians penetrated computer systems at hundreds of U.S. universities, companies, and federal organizations in an attempt to steal research and data, according to charges filed by the Department of Justice on Friday.

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein announced cyber theft charges against nine Iranians for the scheme, which last from 2013 to 2017, at a press conference on Friday. In addition to the criminal charges, the Treasury Department announced sanctions against the individuals and the Tehran-based hacker network they worked for.

The nine charged individuals began their hacking mission in 2013 in coordination with the hacker network, the Mabna Institute, on behalf of the Iranian government, according to the Justice Department The group breached computer systems at 144 U.S. universities, 47 U.S. and foreign companies, the U.S. Department of Labor, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, the State of Hawaii, the State of Indiana, and the United Nations.

“The Department of Justice will aggressively investigate and prosecute hostile actors who attempt to profit from America’s ideas by infiltrating our computer systems and stealing intellectual property,” Rosenstein said on Friday. “This case is important because it will disrupt the defendants’ hacking operations and deter similar crimes.”

Cover image: Stuart Davis, a director at one of FireEye's subsidiaries, stands in front of a map of Iran as he speaks to journalists about the techniques of Iranian hacking, Wednesday, Sept. 20, 2017, in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. (AP Photo/Kamran Jebreili)

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