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Iranians Charged in Cyber-Attacks Against US 2020 Election!

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The US Department of Justice has unsealed charges against 2 Iranian nationals for cyber-attacks against the US 2020 presidential campaign, & there is a $10m reward offered for information on their activities.

The US State Department has offered a $10m reward for information on the 2 Iran-based threat players accused of voter intimidation & disinformation.

Intimidation & Disinformation

The 2 men, Seyyed Mohammad Hosein Musa Kazemi & Sajjad Kashian, allegedly stole voter information & engaged in intimidation & disinformation aimed at undermining confidence in the election, according to a newly unsealed indictment.

The US Department of Justice identified the 2 as contractors for Iran-based cyber-security company Emennet Pasargad, formerly Eleyanet Gostar, reportedly a known vendor for the Iranian Govt.

Threatening Emails

Kazemi & Kashian allegedly breached at least 1 state election website & attempted to access 110 others, sent threatening emails to voters, distributed a disinformation video about election infrastructure vulnerabilities, & gained access to a US media company’s network, according to law enforcement.

“As alleged, Kazemi & Kashian were part of a co-ordinated conspiracy in which Iranian hackers sought to undermine faith & confidence in the US presidential election,” US Attorney Damian Williams for the Southern District of New York explained in a statement.

“Working with others, Kazemi & Kashian accessed voter information from at least 1 state’s voter database, threatened US voters via email, & even disseminated a fictitious video that purported to depict actors fabricating overseas ballots.”

Proud Boys

According to the indictment, the 2 sent Facebook messages & e-mails purportedly from a “group of Proud Boys volunteers” to Republican Senators, Republican Congressional members & individuals working inside the Donald Trump Presidential Campaign.

The messages gave false warnings that the Democrats planned to “edit mail-in ballots or even register non-existent voters,” the indictment outlined.

False Election Video

The emails also contained a video called the “False Election Video” emblazoned with the Proud Boys logo, attempting to show how electronic voting information might be tampered with in an effort to sow discord in the run-up to the 2020 US presidential election.

Kazemi & Kashian are accused of breaching a media company’s network to gain control & to distribute additional election disinformation on election day.

The 2, along with 2 additional leaders of Emennet Pasargad, face personal sanctions through the US Department of Treasury. The Department of State is also offering a $10m reward for information about Kazemi or Kashian.

Extradition Agreement

The 2 remain out of American law enforcement’s reach in Iran, which does not have an extradition agreement with the US.

The Iranian government widely uses cyber-attacks against US interests. Last summer, the Iranian Revolutionary Guard reportedly launched a catfishing attack against a defence contractor. In Oct., another Iranian group targeted US & Israeli defence technology companies with password-spraying attacks.

Just days ago, the US Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Agency (CISA) joined with the Australian Cyber Security Centre (ACSC) & the UK’s National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) to issue an alert that Iranian state players were exploiting known Fortinet and Microsoft Exchange vulnerabilities to breach networks & launch attacks.

Election Tampering

This latest accusation of election tampering is yet another show of strength by the US in its ongoing cyberwar with Iran.

“The US will never tolerate any foreign actors’ attempts to undermine our free and democratic elections,” Williams added.

“As a result of the charges unsealed today, & the concurrent efforts of our US Govt. partners, Kazemi & Kashian will forever look over their shoulders as we strive to bring them to justice.”

Virtual Conference December 2021

 

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