Nine Iranians Charged in Cyber Theft Campaign

The United States Department of Justice has unsealed an indictment charging nine Iranian residents and citizens -- Gholamreza Rafatnejad, 38; Ehsan Mohammadi, 37; Abdollah Karima, aka Vahid Karima, 39; Mostafa Sadeghi, 28; Seyed Ali Mirkarimi, 34; Mohammed Reza Sabahi, 26; Roozbeh Sabahi, 24; Abuzar Gohari Moqadam, 37; and Sajjad Tahmasebi, 30 – with undertaking a massive cyber theft campaign on behalf of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.

According to the indictment, the men “were each leaders, contractors, associates, hackers-for-hire or affiliates of the Mabna Institute, an Iran-based company that, since at least 2013, conducted a coordinated campaign of cyber intrusions into computer systems belonging to 144 U.S. universities, 176 universities across 21 foreign countries, 47 domestic and foreign private sector companies, the U.S. Department of Labor, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, the State of Hawaii, the State of Indiana, the United Nations, and the United Nations Children’s Fund.”

The Mabna Institute was allegedly successful in stealing “more than 31 terabytes of academic data and intellectual property from universities, and email accounts of employees at private sector companies, government agencies, and non-governmental organizations.”

According to Deputy Attorney General Rod. J. Rosenstein, ““These nine Iranian nationals allegedly stole more than 31 terabytes of documents and data from more than 140 American universities, 30 American companies, five American government agencies, and also more than 176 universities in 21 foreign countries.” 

“For many of these intrusions, the defendants acted at the behest of the Iranian government and, specifically, the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps,” said Rosenstein. “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.  This case is important because it will disrupt the defendants’ hacking operations and deter similar crimes.”

 

 

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