U.S. responds to cyberattacks with sanctions

US Charges 9 Iranians With Hacking A Wide Range Of US Targets

According to Deputy US Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, the alleged hackers breached university computer systems and stole intellectual property and other research.

Rosenstein said the defendants are now fugitives and risk arrest and extradition if they travel to any of the more than 100 countries that do have extradition agreements with the US.

Beyond universities, the Iranians hit five US government agencies, including the state governments in Hawaii and in, as well as the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, which oversees the energy industry, and the Department of Labor.

The National Cyber Security Centre assessed with "high confidence" that the Mabna Institute was "almost certainly responsible" for the campaign targeting universities in the UK, US and other Western nations.

Iran's foreign ministry spokesman, Bahram Qasemi, said the move was "provocative, illegitimate, and without any justifiable reason and another sign of the hostility of the ruling circles towards the Iranian nation", the state news agency IRNA reported.

Since at least 2013, hackers associated with the Mabna Institute have allegedly managed to break into computer systems belonging to 144 universities from the United States and 176 universities from 21 other countries, 47 domestic and foreign companies, the U.S. Department of Labor, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, the State of Hawaii, the State of IN, the United Nations and the United Nations Children's Fund, the DoJ said.

Last week, the administration accused the Russian government of cyber attacks stretching back at least two years that targeted the U.S. power grid.

Geoffrey Berman, the USA attorney for the Southern District of NY, in a statement called it a "massive and brazen cyberassault" and "one of the largest state-sponsored hacking campaigns ever prosecuted" by US officials.

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The nine defendants, accused of working at the behest of the Iranian government-tied Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, hacked the computer systems of about 320 universities in the United States and overseas to steal expensive science and engineering research that was then used by the government or sold for profit, prosecutors said. These links were in fact to a site on "a malicious Internet domain named to appear confusingly similar to the authentic domain of the recipient professor's university", the indictment states.

The Treasury Department alleges that the individuals and the firm hacked into computer systems at more than 300 universities in 22 countries, including the US, Britain, and Japan.

In addition to the universities, Washington said the hacking also affected 47 domestic and foreign private-sector companies, as well as the US Department of Labour, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, the states of Hawaii and IN, the United Nations and the UN Children's Fund.

"Indubitably, the United States will not be able to use such ploys to stop or prevent Iranian people's scientific progress", said Qassemi.

The U.S. Justice Department said countries affected included European Union members Denmark, Finland, Germany, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom.

The attacks, as detailed in a 27-page indictment, targeted hundreds of universities around the globe, gleaning 31.5 terabytes of data and leaving a $3.4 billion trail of damages in its wake.

"Just in case you're wondering, they're not admiring our work", FBI Deputy Director David Bowdich said.

"The defendants stole research that cost those universities approximately Dollars 3.4 billion to procure and maintain". They pretended to be professors at other schools expressing interest in their academic articles, the indictment stated.

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