US Justice Department Charges Former Intelligence Officer for Assisting Iranian Hackers.

A former Air Force intelligence officer, Monica Witt, has been charged with assisting Iranian cybercriminals to launch a spy operation that targeted her former colleagues.

The US Department of Justice (DOJ) made the espionage announcements against Witt, 39, who worked as a Special Agent of the Air Force Office of Special Investigations.

She had served in the force between 1997 to 2008 and was a contractor for the Department of Defense (DOD) till 2010. It announced that she defected to Iran in 2013 and presumably still resides there.

The DOJ stated that Witt who once held top-secret security clearance had access to highly classified intelligence operations, identities of US intelligence officers, and real names of sources.

During her stint with the service, she had learned Farsi at a US Military intelligence school, and was deployed on several occasions to the Middle East for counterintelligence missions.

It disclosed that Witt had assembled classified dossiers of eight US military intelligence officers she had previously worked with for Iranian hackers.

The hackers had then used the profile information to send Facebook messages and phishing emails to the officers.

The messages were encoded with malicious links, which if clicked would have installed malware revealing their computer activity, including keystrokes and webcam. 

Due to the nature of her crimes, Witt faces two counts of delivering federal defense information to cybercriminals and a count of conspiracy.

Apart from her, the DOJ also charged the hackers: Mohamad Paryar, Hossein Parvar, Mojtaba Masoumpour and Behzad Mesri with aggravated identity theft and attempts to commit computer intrusion.

Behzad Mesri had been flagged and charged by the DOJ last year for his connection with cyber attacks on HBO, and with leaking Game of Thrones episodes back in 2017.

It stated that Mesri hijacked multiple HBO accounts to gain authorized access into the company’s server. Mesri also stole valuable and confidential data, financial documents, and contact information and had attempted to extort $6 million from the company to delete the stolen data.

 In lieu of this, the Air Force had upgraded its security measures to prevent similar occurrences in the future.