The U.S. Department of Justice Charged Nine Iranian Hackers for conducting a massive cyber theft campaign to steal academic data and intellectual property from U.S.& foreign universities, private companies, and U.S. government entities.
The cybercriminals were the affiliate of the Iran based Mabna Institute and they coordinated with the campaign starting at least from 2013 to December 2017.
During this Four-year campaign attackers successfully infiltrated into 8,000 professor email accounts across 144 U.S.-based universities, 76 universities located in foreign countries and 30 American companies.
According to the court statement, attackers charged into all fields of research and academic disciplines, including science and technology, engineering, social sciences, medical, and other professional fields.
They approximately stolen more than 31 terabytes of data and intellectual property, their main goal is to steal the professor’s login details to gain unauthorized access to the system and steal whatever data available.
“Today, in one of the largest state-sponsored hacking campaigns ever prosecuted by the Department of Justice, we have unmasked criminals who normally hide behind the ones and zeros of computer code,” said U.S. Attorney Berman.
This massive theft campaign attack focused on a number of universities in 22 countries and dozens of private segment companies and governmental organizations directed in the interest of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard.
Iran based Mamba institute was found by the defendants Gholamreza Rafatnejad and Ehsan Mohammadi and their goal is to assist Iranian universities and scientific sectors by stealing other countries scientific resources.
The State-Sponsored hacker group contracted with both Iranian governmental and private entities for conducting hacking on their behalf reads court statement.
Name and roles of Nine Iranian Hackers
Gholamreza Rafatnejad – Founder of the Mabna Institute.
Ehsan Mohammadi – Founder of the Mabna Institute and organize university hacking campaigns.
Seyed Ali Mirkarimi – Hacker and contractor of Mabna Institute, engaged in various hacking campaigns.
Mostafa Sadeghi – Affiliate of Mabna Institute, who hacked more than 1,000 university professor’s accounts.
Sajjad Tahmasebi – Mabna Institute contractor who organized spearphishing campaign targeting universities.
Abdollah Karima – Businessman who sold the stolen academic data.
Abuzar Gohari Moqadam – Professor and affiliate of Mabna Institute.
Mohammed Reza Sabahi – Associate of Mabna Institute Involved in spear phishing activities.
Behzad Mesri – Targets Media companies, who illegally gained access to HBO Network and leaked unreleased scripts of Game of Thrones.
The Cyber Theft Campaign campaign targets following countries 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.