The United States imposed sanctions on Friday on 10 Iranians and an Iranian company for alleged hacking of hundreds of universities in the US and abroad and the theft of "valuable intellectual property and data."
The Mabna Institute "engaged in the theft of personal identifiers and economic resources for private financial gain" and for the benefit of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, the US Treasury Department said.
The two founders of the Mabna Institute were among the 10 people whose assets are subject to US seizure, it said.
The Justice Department said nine of the 10 had been indicted separately for conspiracy to commit computer intrusions and other crimes.
Since 2013, the Mabna Institute carried out cyber intrusions into the computer systems of 144 US universities, the Treasury Department said, and 176 universities in 21 foreign countries.
"For many of these intrusions, the defendants acted at the behest of the Iranian government and, specifically, the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein said in a statement.
"The Department of Justice will aggressively investigate and prosecute hostile actors who attempt to profit from America's ideas by infiltrating our computer systems and stealing intellectual property," Rosenstein added.