The FBI has named and shamed an Iranian hacker, Behzad Mesri, a.k.a. ‘Skote Vashat’ or ‘Mr. Smith’, who hacked 1.5TB of data from HBO servers. He extorted HBO for $6m in Bitcoin to stop leaking Game of Thrones episodes.
It turns out that Mesri was no ordinary script kiddie. Upon checking his background, it was discovered that he worked for the Iranian government to hack nuclear software systems, military systems, and Israeli infrastructure. He was also part of the Turk Black Hat Security team, a group that defaced hundreds of U.S. websites.
But then, it’s very unlikely that Mesri will face US jail time as there’s no extradition treaty with Iran. He can’t be arrested unless he leaves.
The DOJ is aware of this and here’s what they said:
“We made the determination we were not likely to get him. We weighed that against sending a message. That was the balancing we did, and we decided now was the right time to do it,” explained Joon H Kim, acting Manhattan US attorney.
Iran won’t also agree with the US’ claim and in essence, the hacker is trapped inside his own country.
The DOJ’s idea then is not to pursue justice, but to use this as a warning to other hackers who want’s to do damage.
“American ingenuity and creativity is to be cultivated and celebrated – not hacked, stolen, and held for ransom,” cautions Kim.
“For hackers who test our resolve in protecting our intellectual property – even those hiding behind keyboards in countries far away – eventually, winter will come.”