Yesterday, the U.S. charged seven hackers with alleged ties to the Iranian government. This group of hackers had successfully executed coordinated cyberattacks on banks throughout the country as well as a dam near New York City. The U.S. government estimated that the hacks cost America tens of millions of dollars.
The Justice Department’s indictment showed that the hackers were determined to disrupt American interests. The indictment is the first where the FBI has attributed a breach of U.S. security to a foreign government’s hacker.
In the indictment, the Justice Department writes that the hackers infiltrated thousands of people’s computers with malware to create a network of zombie computers used to overpower and knock major networks offline. Some institutions that were affected include the New York Stock Exchange, Bank of America and NASDAQ.
“The attacks were relentless, systematic and widespread,” said Attorney General Loretta Lynch. “They threatened our economic well-being and our ability to compete fairly in the global marketplace, both of which are directly linked to our national security.”
One of the hackers gained access to the control system for the Bowman Avenue Dam, located about 20 miles away from New York City. With this access, the hacker would have been able to control flooding portions of the New York city, Rye. Although the hacker did not exercise this power, officials say that he did gain knowledge about the computer systems that are used to power dams.
All of the hackers worked for Iranian computer companies with close links to the Iranian government, including the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. The seven hackers are listed as Ahmad Fathi, Hamid Firoozi, Amin Shokohi, Sadegh Ahmadzadega, Omid Ghaffarinia, Sina Keissar and Nader Saedi. None of the accused attackers are in American custody or on American soil.
James Comey, FBI Director, believes that pursuing foreign hackers will help deter other cyberattacks in the future. “There is no place safe in this increasingly small world,” he said.