Director Wray Addresses Recent Cyber Activity

Director Christopher Wray gives an address on recent cyber operations conducted by the FBI.

Video Transcript

Hi, I’m Chris Wray, director of the FBI. The FBI has spent more than a century investigating criminal and national security threats. But these days, we’re not just fighting crime on the streets. We’re also battling it every day in the virtual world through computer code, servers, and software. Cybercriminals might feel emboldened by the anonymity they enjoy behind the keyboard. They might assume they can’t be identified and held accountable. And the nation-states that support them might assume that, too.

They’re wrong.

The FBI is coming after them and we’re doing it with the full force of our law enforcement and intelligence partners in the U.S. and overseas through carefully planned and coordinated joint operations. And those partnerships are yielding results. Today, I’m announcing the indictment of three Iranian nationals for their roles in a multi-year scheme to compromise the networks of hundreds of companies, organizations, and institutions, many of which offer critical services we all rely on every day.

I'm talking about healthcare facilities, power companies, local governments in communities across the United States and around the globe.

The individuals being charged today:

·      Mansour Ahmadi

·      Ahmad Khatibi Aghda

·      Amir Hossein Nickaein Ravari

engaged in a pattern of hacking, cyber-theft, and extortion largely for personal gain.

They were looking to steal information, encrypt networks, and sell private data, all in the hopes of persuading victims to pay sizeable ransoms. In addition to targeting victims here in the U.S. the defendants also targeted companies and entities around the world, including in their own country of Iran, demonstrating that few targets were off-limits.These three individuals are among a group of cybercriminals whose attacks represent a direct assault on the critical infrastructure and public services we all depend on. Of course, we’ve been focused on threats like these for some time now. I’m also announcing today a joint cybersecurity advisory issued by the FBI and our law enforcement and intelligence partners both in the United States and abroad. The advisory highlights the broader threat posed by cyber actors affiliated with the Government of Iran who have actively targeted victims in the United States including critical infrastructure.

To these sorts of actors, nothing is off-limits. Not even, for example, Boston Children’s Hospital, which they set their sights on in the summer of 2021. Fortunately, before they could successfully launch their attack, we received a tip from a partner that the hospital had been targeted. And working closely with the hospital, we were able to identify and defeat the threat protecting both the network and the sick children who depend on it. I’m very proud of our success thwarting that attack. This indictment, and the cybersecurity advisory we’re releasing, show what’s possible when federal and international partners work together and place a priority on close collaboration with victims. The cyber threat facing our nation is growing more dangerous and complex every day. Today’s announcement makes clear the threat is both local and global. It’s one we can’t ignore and it’s one we can’t fight on our own, either.

When it comes to ransomware, we’re working with an unprecedented number of partners at all levels of government, in the private sector, and overseas to combat the threat. And when dealing with the kind of cybercriminals we’re talking about today, including those affiliated with hostile foreign governments, the Bureau’s bringing to bear decades of expertise countering foreign intelligence and cyber threats. The dedicated team at the FBI’s Newark Field Office performed some extraordinary work both to uncover the criminal activity discussed in the indictment, and to put what they learned to operational use here, and by providing it to our partners. Like all the men and women of the FBI, they’ve dedicated themselves to keeping our communities safe. And I couldn’t be prouder of the work they do every day, often behind the scenes, to protect their fellow Americans.

I also want to thank our partners in the Intelligence Community, across law enforcement, and in the military both here in the U.S. and overseas, whose efforts made these indictments and our broader efforts against state-sponsored cybercriminals possible. Finally, I want to thank the many victims that helped us identify the vulnerabilities these cybercriminals exploited. Today’s announcement is just the tip of the iceberg. We’ve prepared a host of other actions I can’t talk about quite yet but that were designed and sequenced in conjunction with this indictment to make a big dent in the threat. These steps will also show those responsible for these unconscionable attacks that if you try to hold our critical infrastructure for ransom, if you try to disrupt the way Americans live their daily lives, you’re going to be facing the full force of the U.S. government and its allies, and we will do everything in our power to bring you to justice.

Thank you.

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