Two Iranian nationals have been charged this week in Missouri for allegedly running a cryptojacking operation that targeted at least one company in the United States.
The accused are Danial Jeloudar and Saeeid Safaei, and they are both believed to be living abroad. They have been charged with conspiracy to commit wire fraud.
According to prosecutors, Jeloudar and Safaei “fraudulently” gained access to a cloud services account used by a tech company in St Charles, Missouri.
“By misrepresenting themselves through the victim company’s account, the defendants fraudulently authorized the cloud service provider to build and install at least five new computer servers in the cloud. The purpose of the new servers was to run and operate software programs to generate cryptocurrency,” the Justice Department said in a press release on Thursday.
The intrusion came to light when the targeted company received a $760,000 bill from the cloud services provider. The cloud service has not been named but companies such as AWS charge customers based on usage.
These types of incidents are not uncommon — while in some cases the cryptocurrency mining operation is conducted by an external actor, there have also been many incidents involving the affected company’s own employees.
The DoJ’s press release also includes some recommendations for organizations to minimize the risk of cryptojacking. The advice includes using two-step authentication to protect online accounts, monitoring log-ins for suspicious access, and auditing cloud storage in an effort to find unauthorized content.
Authorities pointed out that this is the first cryptojacking case to be prosecuted in the Eastern District of Missouri.
Earlier this week, a Missouri man was sentenced to 10 months in prison for his role in a SIM swapping scheme that resulted in the theft of millions of dollars in cryptocurrency.
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