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Hacktivists say they stole 100,000 emails from Iran's nuclear energy agency

Tehran laughs it off as foreign psyop or media stunt. Just don't remind them about Stuxnet, OK?

Iran's Atomic Energy Organization has laughed off claims that the email systems of a subsidiary were compromised, revealing important operational data about a nuclear power plant.

An activist group that calls itself Black Reward and claims to be from Iran took to Telegram last Friday with claims it had accessed an email server run by a company related to Iran's Atomic Energy Organization and exfiltrated 324 inboxes comprising over 100,000 messages and totalling over 50G of files.

Black Reward claimed the content of the haul includes construction plans for a nuclear power plant, personal information of Iranians who work for the Organization, and passport details of Russian engineers who assist Iran's nuclear power efforts.

Technical details and reports are allegedly among the haul, which Black Reward has also detailed on Twitter. Correspondence with the International Atomic Energy Agency can also be found in the trove.

Black Reward's Twitter bio claims the group is part of the Iranian hacker community but is opposed to the nation's theocratic government, which it labels criminal.

The group appears to have chosen this moment to act as protests spread across Iran in the wake of the death of Mahsa Amini – a woman who died after being taken into custody for not observing Iran's strict dress code for women. Video evidence emerged that suggested Amini died from injuries she received in a beating by authorities, but the government insists the 22-year-old suffered a sudden heart attack.

Anit-government protests have roiled Iran since Amini's death in late September 2022, with thousands taking the streets at great personal risk. Thousands more have joined marches around the world.

Iran's regime has responded with force, and by restricting access to social media to stop word of the protests spreading.

Iran's Atomic Energy Organization has dismissed Black Reward's claims to have accessed a trove of sensitive data, asserting that the group is in reality a front for Iran's foreign enemies and the supposed release of information is a media stunt.

Black Rewards begs to differ and has started posting the info to prove its bona fides. It recommends the info be accessed in a virtual machine, as the Atomic Energy Organization’s emails are rife with viruses.

Most nations contend that Iran's nuclear program has two purposes, one of which is to help it build atomic weapons. The Stuxnet worm, a notorious piece of malware, is thought to have been developed to damage Iran's uranium enrichment capabilities in the hope development of nuclear weapons would be delayed. Revealing the operations of Iran's nuclear infrastructure could conceivably enable similar attacks. Leaking correspondence with the International Atomic Energy Agency could also hurt Iran, as the nation is subject to ongoing inspections of its operations to verify safety and that the nation is not working to develop weapons of mass destruction.

Black Reward seems not to be concerned with weapons, but with exposing corrupt and/or repressive government activity. ®

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