New additions to the FBI’s Cyber’s Most Wanted List show “the line between ordinary criminal hackers and potential national security threats is increasingly blurry,” according to Assistant Attorney General for National Security John Carlin. The FBI is offering a $100,000 award for information leading to the arrest of two Syrian nationals, suspected of committing dozens of cyber-attacks, including extortion, against U.S. government agencies and private companies.
Firas Dardar and Ahmad Agha are suspected of being members of an entity called the “Syrian Electronic Army” (SEA), which the FBI alleges to be a group of hackers working in support of the Syrian Regime. The indictments against the alleged co-conspirators were under seal until late March 2016. The FBI added both to both to the Cyber’s Most Wanted list as soon as the indictments were made public.
Charges include conspiracy to gain unauthorized access to and damage computers, convey false information regarding a terrorist attack, cause mutiny of U.S. Military members, commit identity theft, access device fraud, commit money laundering, commit wire fraud, violate Syrian sanctions regulations, and receive the proceeds of extortion.
Dardar is alleged to have worked with Agha to target computer systems at the Executive Office of the President, although those attempts failed. They were successful in hacking into a media outlet’s Twitter account and tweeting that a bomb explosion at the White House had injured the President. They also used a third party vendor to commandeer a U.S. Marines recruiting website, posting a message to U.S. Marines to “refuse [their] orders.” Dardar and another co-conspirator are also alleged to have hacked into private computers and threatened damage to the computers, deletion of data or sale of stolen data if the victims did not make payments into Syrian accounts.