An Iranian hacker managed to gain control of the computer systems that worked the sluices on a New York dam — but luckily the gates had been taken offline for maintenance at the time, foiling any possible mischief, federal prosecutors said Thursday, announcing charges against seven Iran-backed operatives for hacking American infrastructure.
Minutes after the indictments were announced, the Treasury Department said it had imposed sanctions on backers of Iran’s ballistic missile program, in a one-two punch that seemed intended to push back against Obama administration critics who said the U.S. was kowtowing to the Iranian regime in the wake of last year’s historic nuclear deal.
Analysts said the charges against the hackers mark the first time the government has pursued a case against citizens working for a foreign power who tried to disrupt U.S. infrastructure.
In addition to the indictment connected to the New York dam, the hackers stand accused of trying to shut down the computers of the New York Stock Exchange, the Nasdaq composite, Bank of America, Capitol One Bank and dozens of other major financial institutions, disabling bank websites and denying customers online access to their accounts.
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