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Iranian Men Charged In Connection To Westchester Hacking

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United States officials announced the unsealing of indictments relating to the 2013 hacks on the Bowman Dam in Rye Thursday morning. Iranian citizen and resident Hamid Firoozi, 34, has been charged with obtaining and aiding and abetting unauthorized access to a protected computer, a felony that carries a 10-year maximum sentence.

Firoozi and six other Iranian citizens, who range in age from 23-37, were also charged with conspiracy to commit and aid and abet computer hacking for their roles in hacks of the U.S financial sector; a campaign lasting more than 176 days. The unsealing of these indictments sends a powerful message, “we can and will expose malicious cyber hackers engaging in unlawful acts that threaten our public safety and national security,” said Assistant Attorney General John P. Carlin.

Photograph Courtesy of The City of Rye

A sluice gate at the Bowman Dam in Rye

The hacks of Westchester’s Bowman Dam by Firoozi took place between August 28, 2013 and Sept 18, 2013. He was able to access information related to the status and operation of the dam and the status of the sluice gate—responsible for controlling water levels and flow rates. Fortunately, at the time of the hacks, the Bowman Dam sluice gate had been manually disconnected for maintenance.

While seemingly inconsequential, the attempt by the Iranians to hack the dam was something that the county took very seriously. “Coordinated communication is one of our prime lines of defense against these types of terror threats,” said County Executive Rob Astorino. “Preventing an attack can only be accomplished if we work together and share information.”

The seven Iranian defendants were employed by two Iran-based computer companies, ITSecTeam (“ITSEC”) and Mersad Company (MERSAD). The work of the FBI allowed the filing of these indictments. “[We] will find those behind cyber intrusions and hold them accountable,” said FBI Director James B. Comey. “Wherever they are, and whoever they are.”

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