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U.S. Government Charging Seven Government Linked Iranians For Hacking U.S. Dam

March 24, 2016

In 2013, an Iranian hacker group called SOBH Cyber Jihad hacked into the computer infrastructure that controlled the Bowman Avenue Dam in Rye Brook, N.Y.; just 20 miles north of New York City.


According to the Department of Homeland Security, hackers got into the system and read files such as usernames and passwords on six different occasions between Aug. 22 and Sept. 27, 2013.

Here’s a little more background on what went down, according to NBC News:

The group, SOBH Cyber Jihad, sent a message through another Iran-linked hacker outfit, Parastoo, promising that it would release the technical information that proves it was behind the 2013 breach, according to Flashpoint Intelligence.

The hackers claimed they kept quiet about the attack for two years because of a “state-level” warning not to go public with it “for the greater good.”

A source familiar with the investigation told NBC News that the breach was traced to an Iranian group, but that it was never clear if the intrusion was condoned by the government in Tehran. A spokesman for the Iranian Mission to the United Nations did not respond to a request for comment.

The hackers did not ever manipulate the dam over the Blind Brook, officials in Rye said. While the dam dates back to the 1940s, it has a sluice gate that was designed to be opened and closed by computer but never fully worked, the city said.

Experts believe that these hackers have been probing different dams and pieces of infrastructure and in this particular instance, manipulated the dam in such a way that could have impacted it greatly.

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On Thursday Justice Department officials charged seven Iranian hackers in connection with the 2013 attack. Here is what Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) had to say about it:

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

Not a ton is known about the hacker group SOBH Cyber Jihad, but Maxim came across some interesting info:

SOBH Cyber Jihad doesn’t have a particularly deep internet footprint for a group that claims to be hacktivists. However, in September, 2015, a document bearing the group’s name was uploaded to, a site devoted to collecting information about national security, intelligence, and government secrecy, among other things. 

The document was titled “OpWinterIsComing” and addressed to “DOE,” the Dept. of Energy. 

The author or authors of the document, which despite the name may or may not be the same group cited in the dam hack, stated they “tried to understand under what circumstances you would be vulnerable to a total Energy chaos as a nation of voters and fat defense contractors.” They continued on to say their “target was mainly U.S Department of Energy (DOE) and several national labs that help this organization works.” The document also contained screenshots and aerial map views of various locations and long lists of “pwned” email addresses as well as servers—most of them with .gov suffixes.

At the end of the document the SOBH Cyber Jihad writer or writers said that the DOE was “pwned without harm.” They stated that they “could vandalize obviously but there was no sense to it.”

Will the next major terror attack in America be a cyber attack? Sound off in the comments below!