Microsoft blames Iranian state actors for Charlie Hebdo cyberattack

Microsoft blames Iranian state actors for Charlie Hebdo cyberattack

Microsoft blames Iranian state actors for Charlie Hebdo cyberattack

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US IT giant Microsoft said on Friday it had identified Iranian state actors as being behind the recent cyberattack on French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo.


Clint Watts, general manager of Microsoft’s Digital Threat Analysis Center, said the hackers, who called themselves “Holy Souls”, were Iranian cybersecurity firm Emennet Pasargad.

In early January, Holy Souls announced that it had obtained the personal information of more than 200,000 Charlie Hebdo customers, and released a sample of the data as evidence.

The cyberattack came after Charlie Hebdo published caricatures of Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei in a special edition to mark the anniversary of the 2015 attack on its Paris offices that killed 12 people.

Iran has issued an official warning to France over the “insulting and indecent” cartoons.

Emennet Pasargad was the employer of two Iranians, Mohammad Hosein Musa Kazemi and Sajjad Kashian, who were indicted by the United States Department of Justice in November 2021.

They allegedly waged a cyber campaign “to intimidate and influence American voters, and otherwise undermine voter confidence and sow discord” in the 2020 US presidential election.

Kazemi and Kashian allegedly obtained confidential voter information and sent threatening emails, spreading false information to influence Democratic and Republican voters, and attempted to hack state voting-related websites, the department said. .

Charlie Hebdo hackers, whose operation Microsoft has dubbed “Neptunium”, have offered the stolen subscriber database for sale online for 20 bitcoins, currently around $460,000 (almost Rs. 3.80 crore) , Microsoft said.

“Whatever one may think of Charlie Hebdo’s editorial choices, the release of personally identifiable information about tens of thousands of its customers poses a grave threat,” Microsoft said.

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