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Cyberattack Targeted Academics

Hundreds of universities and thousands of professors were targeted in a cyberattack, ScienceInsider reports.

A US federal grand jury indictment alleges that nine Iranians working for the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps hacked the computers of 7,998 professors at 320 universities, including 140 in the US. They also stole from 30 American companies and five American government agencies, according to the Department of Justice.

"From 2013 to 2017, the defendants targeted more than 100,000 accounts of university professors around the world," Geoffrey Berman, US attorney for the Southern District of New York, tells Gizmodo. "And by tricking professors to click on false links, compromised 8,000 accounts." 

The indictment says that the hackers gained access to intellectual property and academic data that cost US-based universities $3.4 billion to "procure and access," according to ScienceInsider. The DOJ says the data stolen includes research, theses, and journal articles, and that it was then sold through two websites, Gigapaper and Megapaper, to help Iranian universities access outside research. It adds that all academic and research fields were targeted, including science, social science, and medicine.

The nine defendants are charged with conspiracy to commit computer intrusions, conspiracy to commit wire fraud, unauthorized access of a computer, wire fraud, and aggravated identity theft. Reuters notes that none of the nine has been arrested or extradited.

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