export-controls 20 July 2017

Iranians charged with Vermont hacking

Two Iranian nationals in the United States, Mohammed Reza Rezakhah, 39, and Mohammed Saeed Ajily, 35, have been charged with ‘a criminal conspiracy relating to computer fraud and abuse, unauthorized access to, and theft of information from, computers, wire fraud, exporting a defense article without a license, and violating sanctions against Iran,’ according to the US Department of Justice. Arrest warrants have been issued for both men.

The indictment alleges that beginning ‘in or around 2007, Rezakhah, Ajily, and a third actor who has already pleaded guilty in the District of Vermont for related conduct, conspired together to access computers without authorization in order to obtain software which they would then sell and redistribute in Iran and elsewhere outside the U.S.’

The DoJ said that Ajily would ‘task Rezakhah and others with stealing or unlawfully cracking particular pieces of valuable software. Rezakhah would then conduct unauthorized intrusions into victim networks to steal the desired software. Once the software was obtained, Ajily marketed and sold the software through various companies and associates to Iranian entities, including universities and military and government entities, specifically noting that such sales were in contravention of U.S. export controls and sanctions.’

Rezakhah is alleged to have hacked a Vermont-based engineering consulting and software design company that creates software supporting aerodynamics analysis and design for projectiles – and designated as a ‘defense article’ on the US Military List. Ajily is then alleged attempted to sell this software to Iranian clients.