U.S. Charges Seven Iranians In Westchester Dam Hack

RYE, N.Y. -- The Justice Department announced seven Iranian individuals had been indicted in a cyberattack on a small dam in Rye Brook in 2013.

The Bowman Avenue Dam in Rye.
The Bowman Avenue Dam in Rye. Photo Credit: Google Maps

The seven were employed by two Iran-based computer companies that performed work on behalf of the Iranian Government, including the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, the Justice Department said.

"A federal grand jury in Manhattan found that these seven individuals conspired together, and with others, to conduct a series of cyberattacks against civilian targets in the United States financial industry that, in all, cost victims tens of millions of dollars," Attorney General Loretta Lynch said in a press conference Thursday morning.

The case stems from a 2013 cyber intrusion in which hackers targeted the Bowman Avenue Dam, a small flood-control structure in Rye Brook.

The charges also include disrupting U.S. banks’ public websites from late 2011 through May 2013.

The indictments mark the first time the U.S. government is charging people linked to a nation with attempting to disrupt or disrupting U.S. computer systems or infrastructure.

The seven Iranians indicted range in age from 23 to 37.

It appears unlikely the seven will face the charges or be arrested since Iran would likely never extradite the seven.

“We never say never," FBI Director James Comey said at Thursday's press conference. "People often like to travel for vacation or education, and we want them looking over their shoulder.”

The Bowman Avenue dam security breach was first reported by The Wall Street Journal in December 2015, two years after the attempted cyberattack.

U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., said earlier this month that a Justice Department investigation had connected the intrusion to the Iranians. He said the act should be met with stronger sanctions.

“What were they doing? They were sending a shot across our bow,” Schumer said. “They were saying that we can damage, seriously damage, our critical infrastructure and put the lives and property of people at risk.”

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