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Treasury names Iranian cyber actors targeting US companies and government agencies

Treasury names Iranian cyber actors targeting US companies and government agencies

 


WASHINGTON Today, the U.S. Department of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) sanctioned two companies and four individuals involved in malicious cyber activity on behalf of the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Cyber ​​Electronic Command (IRGC-CEC) . These actors have targeted more than a dozen U.S. companies and government entities through cyber operations, including spear phishing and malware attacks. In conjunction with today's action, the U.S. Department of Justice and the Federal Bureau of Investigation are unveiling an indictment against the four individuals for their roles in cyber activity targeting U.S. entities.

Malicious Iranian cybercriminals continue to target U.S. businesses and government entities as part of a coordinated, multi-pronged campaign to destabilize our critical infrastructure and harm our citizens, the Treasury's undersecretary for terrorism said and Financial Intelligence, Brian E. Nelson. The United States will continue to leverage its whole-of-government approach to expose and disrupt the operations of these networks.

Iranian cyber actors continue to target the United States using a wide range of malicious cyber activities, from ransomware attacks against critical infrastructure to spear phishing and other social engineering campaigns against individuals, businesses, and organizations. government entities. The IRGC-CEC, one of the Iranian government organizations behind malicious cyber activity, works through a series of front companies to target the United States and several other countries. Although the front company's management and key personnel are aware that their operations support the CEC-IRGC, much of the Iranian public is unaware that some companies in Iran, such as Mehrsam Andisheh Saz Nik, are used as front companies to support the CEC-IRGC. The Iranian public must be aware that the IRGC-CEC uses private companies and their employees to achieve illegal goals.

Today's action is being taken pursuant to Counterterrorism Executive Order (EO) 13224, as amended. OFAC has designated the CEC-IRGC, also known as the IRGC Electronic Warfare and Cyber ​​Defense Organization, pursuant to EO 13606 of January 12, 2018, as being owned or controlled by, or acting for or at name of the IRGC, which itself was designated pursuant to EO 13224 on October 13, 2017. In February 2024, OFAC designated six CEC-IRGC officials in response to recent cyber operations in which cyber actors affiliated with the IRGC have manipulated programmable logic controllers, which has impacted critical infrastructure systems, particularly in the United States. States. Even though these particular operations did not disrupt any critical services, unauthorized access to critical infrastructure systems can enable actions that harm the public and result in devastating humanitarian consequences.

IRGC-CEC FRONT COMPANIES AND AFFILIATED CYBERACTORS

Mehrsam Andisheh Saz Nik (MASN), formerly known as Mahak Rayan Afzar, is a CEC-IRGC front company that has supported malicious cyber activities carried out by the CEC-IRGC. The company has been associated with several Iranian advanced persistent threat (APT) groups, including Tortoiseshell. The company is also associated with other malicious cyber activity, including a multi-year campaign targeting more than a dozen U.S. companies and government entities, including the Treasury Department.

Alireza Shafie Nasab is a cyber actor affiliated with the CEC and the IRGC who was involved in the same multi-year cyber campaign targeting US entities while employed by MASN's predecessor, Mahak Rayan Afzar.

Reza Kazemifar Rahman (Kazemifar), another IRGC-CEC cyber actor, has been involved in operational testing of malware intended to target job seekers, with a focus on veterans. Kazemifar, while employed by MASN's predecessor Mahak Rayan Afzar, was also involved in the spear phishing campaign targeting several US entities, including the Treasury Department.

The IRGC-CEC front company, Dadeh Afzar Arman (DAA), has also engaged in malicious cyber campaigns in the name of the IRGC-CEC.

Hosein Mohammad Haruni was employed by the DAA and was associated with various spear phishing and other social engineering operations, in addition to malicious cyber activities targeting U.S. entities and the Treasury Department.

Komeil Baradaran Salmani has been associated with several IRGC-CEC front companies and involved in spear phishing campaigns targeting several US entities, including the Treasury Department.

Mehrsam Andisheh Saz Nik, Dadeh Afzar Arman, Alireza Shafie Nasab, Komeil Baradaran Salmani and Reza Kazemifar Rahman are all designated pursuant to EO 13224, as amended, for acting or purporting to act for or on behalf of, directly or indirectly, the IRGC-CEC. Hosein Mohammad Haruni is designated pursuant to EO 13224, as amended, for acting or purporting to act for or on behalf of, directly or indirectly, Dadeh Afzar Arman.

IMPLICATIONS OF SANCTIONS

As a result of today's action, all property and interests in property of the designated persons described above that are in the United States or in the possession or control of U.S. persons are blocked and must be reported to OFAC. In addition, all entities that are owned, directly or indirectly, individually or in aggregate, 50 percent or more by one or more blocked persons, are also blocked. Unless authorized by a general or specific license issued by OFAC, or exempted, OFAC regulations generally prohibit all transactions by U.S. persons or within (or in transit) of the United States that involve property or interests in property of designated or otherwise blocked persons.

Additionally, financial institutions and other individuals that engage in certain transactions or activities with sanctioned entities and individuals may be subject to sanctions or enforcement action. Prohibitions include making any contribution or supply of funds, goods or services by, to or for the benefit of any designated person, or receiving any contribution or supply of funds, goods or services from 'such a person.

The power and integrity of OFAC sanctions derive not only from OFAC's ability to designate and add individuals to the Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons List (SDN List), but also from its willingness to remove individuals from the SDN list in accordance with the law. The ultimate goal of sanctions is not to punish, but to bring about positive change in behavior. For more information on the process of requesting removal from an OFAC list, including the SDN list, please refer to OFAC Frequently Asked Questions 897 here. For detailed information on the process of submitting a request to be removed from an OFAC sanctions list, please click here.

Click here for more information on the individuals and entities designated today.

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Sources

1/ https://Google.com/

2/ https://home.treasury.gov/news/press-releases/jy2292

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