Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein has announced indictments of nine Iranian hackers for intellectual property theft.
Rosenstein said that those indicted hacked universities and stole billions of dollars in research from Americans. He stated that they were working on behalf of the Iranian government and the Islamic Revolutionary Guard.
Charges against the hackers include computer fraud, wire fraud, conspiracy and identity theft.
“The events described in this indictment highlight the need for universities and all other organizations to emphasize cyber security, increase threat awareness and harden their computer networks,” Rosenstein said.
The hackers were named as 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, all of whom are citizens of Iran. The Mabna Institute is also named.
Rosenstein said that the Mabna Institute “conducted massive, coordinated cyber intrusions into computer systems belonging to at least approximately 144 United States-based universities, in addition to at least 176 universities located in 21 foreign countries”
The stolen information is said to be worth approximately $3.4 billion, Rosenstein announced.
“The stolen information was used by the Revolutionary Guard or sold for profit in Iran,” Rosenstein said.
Rosenstein was joined by the Treasury’s Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence Sigal Mandelker, Assistant Attorney General John C. Demers, US Attorney of the Southern District of New York Geoffrey S. Berman, FBI Deputy Director David L. Bowdich and FBI Assistant Director in Charge William F. Sweeney Jr.
“Today, in one of the largest state-sponsored hacking campaigns ever prosecuted by the Department of Justice, we have unmasked criminals who normally work in total anonymity hiding behind ones and zeros,” Berman said.
The hackers are not in custody and are believed to be in Iran.