Iranian cyber assault on the US exposed

In landmark indictment, US charges 7 Iranians working for IRGC with widespread campaign targeting American banks, NY dam and NASA.

Ari Yashar ,

Hackers (illustrative)
Hackers (illustrative)

Seven Iranians hacked into the computer systems of key US industries for the Iranian government, according to an unprecedented indictment on Thursday charging state-sponsored hackers with such crimes for the first time.

The seven suspects are accused of conducting a coordinated campaign of cyber attacks between 2012 and 2013 on several American banks in addition to a New York dam and NASA, reports Washington Post.

All of them currently are in Iran. According to the indictment they were working for two Iranian computer security companies, ITSec Team and Mersad Co., on behalf of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC).

One of them, Hamid Firoozi, repeatedly hacked into the Bowman Avenue Dam in Rye, New York between the months of August and September 2013, according to the indictment. He would have been able to "operate and manipulate" a gate on the dam if it hadn't been manually disconnected for maintenance.

Two others hacked into NASA servers and vandalized the organization's websites, but the brunt of the hacking campaign targeted 46 US financial institutions, crashing their commercial sites.

For a period of time the assaults on the banks hit major institutions every week, preventing hundreds of thousands of customers from conducting online banking, and inflicting tens of millions of dollars in losses.

Bank of America, the Nasdaq composite index, the New York Stock Exchange, Capital One, AT&T and PNC were all among the affected institutions.

“These attacks were relentless, they were systematic and they were widespread,” said Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch.

Iran has continued to show a hostile attitude towards the US even in the wake of the controversial nuclear deal last summer. That Iranian position has included repeated ballistic missile tests breaching UN resolutions, which led the US just this Thursday to add IRGC units to its sanctions blacklist.