Seven hackers tied to the Iranian government were charged Thursday in a series of punishing cyberattacks on a small dam outside New York City and on dozens of banks—intrusions that reached into American infrastructure and disrupted the financial system, federal law enforcement officials said. The hackers were charged in indictments unsealed and announced at a Justice Department news conference in Washington, reports the AP. The case stems in part from a 2013 cyber intrusion in which hackers targeted the Bowman Avenue Dam, a small flood-control structure in Rye Brook, about 20 miles north of New York City. The indictment calls those charged "experienced computer hackers" who "performed work on behalf of the Iranian Government, including the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps," reports the New York Times.
Though the individuals are not in American custody, officials said the goal is to put cybercriminals on notice that they cannot act with impunity. "The message of this case is that we will work together to shrink the world and impose costs on these people, so that no matter where they are, we will reach them," FBI Director James Comey said. It's the latest instance of the Obama administration publicly blaming foreign nations for damaging cyberbreaches, though the Times notes it is the first time the White House has taken action against Iran for a string of cyberattacks that date back to 2011. The Justice Department in May 2014 indicted five Chinese military officials suspected of hacking into several major American companies and stealing trade secrets.