September 12, 2022

OFAC designates Iran’s Ministry of Intelligence and Security and its leader for alleged cyber attacks

On September 9, 2022, the US Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control designated Iran’s Ministry of Intelligence and Security (MOIS) and its Minister of Intelligence Esmail Khatib, for conducting cyber operations, since at least 2007, which targeted both government and private-sector organizations affiliated with the US and its allies.  OFAC reports that these cyber operations include cyber espionage and ransomware attacks which were conducted to support Iran’s political goals.  More recently in July 2022, cyber actors with alleged ties to the Government of Iran and MOIS disrupted the Albanian Government’s computer systems, which forced the government to suspend online public services for its citizens. The cyber actors also allegedly leaked documents associated with the Albanian government and the personal information of Albanian residents.

According to OFAC, the MOIS was previously designated by the US under Executive Orders 13224, 13472, and 13553 for supporting several terrorist groups and its role in the commission of serious human rights abuses against the Iranian people.  OFAC’s recent designation of the MOIS was issued pursuant to EO 13694, as amended, to specifically target the group’s malicious cyber activities, while Khatib’s designation was issued pursuant to EO 13694, as amended, for acing or purporting to act for or on behalf of the MOIS.

As a result of these designations, all property and interests in property of today’s designees within the United States or within the possession or control of a U.S. person are blocked, and U.S. persons are generally prohibited from engaging in transactions involving the designated persons.  In addition, entities owned 50 percent or more by one or more blocked persons are also blocked, and any foreign financial institution that knowingly conducts or facilitates a significant transaction for, or on behalf of, a blocked person could be subject to US correspondent or payable-through account sanctions.

Department of Treasury Press Release