4 Iranians charged in scheme to hack US agencies and defense contractors

US prosecutors on Tuesday announced charges against four Iranian men for a sprawling hacking campaign that targeted US federal agencies and sensitive data held by American defense contractors.

The hackers’ targets included the US State and Treasury departments, as well as more than a dozen US companies, including Pentagon contractors handling classified information, prosecutors alleged in an indictment unsealed in the Southern District of New York.

The hacking effort took place from 2016 to 2021 and infected “more than 200,000 victim devices, many of which contained sensitive or classified defense information,” Damian Williams, the US attorney general for the Southern District of New York, said when announcing initial charges related to the case in February.

It was not immediately clear whether the departments of State or Treasury networks were successfully hacked in the campaign. CNN has requested comment from those agencies.

Hacking has long been one the sources of tension in the US-Iran relationship. FBI Director Christopher Wray in 2022 blamed Iranian government-backed hackers for a “despicable” cyberattack on Boston Children’s Hospital. Tehran denied involvement.

In the indictment unsealed Tuesday, Hossein Harooni, Reza Kazemifar, Alireza Shafie Nasab and Komeil Baradaran Salmani were charged with wire and computer fraud, among other charges. Nasab had been charged in a previous indictment unsealed in the Southern District of New York in February.

The men are all in their 30s and remain at large, according to the Justice Department.

Prosecutors accused three of the men of working for a front company in Iran that purported to offer cybersecurity services.

The Treasury Department on Tuesday announced sanctions on the four men while accusing them of being affiliated with the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, which is part of Iran’s armed forces. The State Department also touted a reward of up to $10 million for information leading to the identification or location of the men.

CNN has requested comment from the Iranian Permanent Mission to the United Nations.

“Criminal activity originating from Iran poses a grave threat to America’s national security and economic stability,” Attorney General Merrick Garland said in a statement announcing the new charges.

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