The United States Department of Justice has announced criminal charges and sanctions against 9 Iranians involved in hacking universities, tech companies, and government organisations worldwide to steal scientific research resources and academic papers.
According to the FBI officials, the individuals are connected to the Mabna Institute, an Iran-based company created in 2013 whose members were allegedly hired by the Iranian government for gathering intelligence.
Though the content of the papers is not yet known, investigators believe it might have helped Iranian scientists to develop nuclear weapons.
In past four years, the state-sponsored hacking group has allegedly infiltrated more than 320 universities in 22 countries—144 of which were in the United States—and stolen over 30 terabytes of academic data and intellectual property.
The group used spear-phishing attacks to target more than 100,000 e-mail accounts and computer systems of the professors around the world, and successfully compromised 7,998 of those accounts till last December—3,768 of them at US universities.
"Their primary goal was to obtain usernames and passwords for the accounts of professors so they could gain unauthorized access and steal whatever kind of proprietary academic information they could get their hands on," said the FBI agent who investigated the case
source : thehackernews.com