The United States is expected to file charges against half a dozen of Iranian hackers over a coordinated campaign of cyber attacks in 2012 and 2013 on several US banks and a New York dam, sources familiar with the matter told Reuters.
The case to be filed by the US Justice Department as early as Thursday is one of the highest-profile US indictments against a foreign nation on hacking charges, the news agency said.
It follows a landmark 2014 case in which a grand jury charged five members of the Chinese military with hacking into American computer networks and engaging in cyber espionage on behalf of a foreign government.
The charges, related to unlawful access to computers and other alleged crimes, are expected to directly link the hacking campaign to the Iranian government, one source said.
The banks will not be identified in the indictment due to fear of retaliation, the source said.
Though a planned indictment for the breach of back-office computer systems at the Bowman Avenue Dam in Rye Brook, New York, has been reported, it was only part of a hacking campaign that was broader than previously known, the sources said.
The dam breach coincided roughly with a spate of distributed denial of service attacks in 2012 that hit more than a half dozen US financial institutions and the two episodes were long suspected of being connected.
Cyber security experts have said these, too, were perpetrated by Iranian hackers against Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase, Capital One, PNC Financial Services and SunTrust Bank.
In the intrusion of the dam computers, the hackers did not gain operational control of the floodgates, and investigators believe they were attempting to test their capabilities.
The hackers who were expected to be named in the indictment all reside in Iran, one source said.
Charging the Iranian hackers would be the highest-profile move of its type by the Obama administration since the Justice Department in 2014 accused five members of China’s People’s Liberation Army with hacking several Pennsylvania-based companies in an alleged effort to steal trade secrets, the report said.
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