Research from top UK universities including Oxford, Cambridge and Edinburgh have been stolen and made available for sale on Iranian websites.
The hack has come ahead of a new round of sanctions against Iran due to begin in November.
The hack, revealed by the Telegraph newspaper, is likely to concern President Donald Trump as it gives Iran information on Western research at a time when the US wants to isolate Tehran.
In May, Mr Trump pulled the US out of the Iran Nuclear Deal and has signed an executive order to reimpose economic sanctions that were waived when the deal was signed in 2015.
Universities should be worrying about it
Former MI5 and GCHQ officer, Dave Palmer
Chief Information Security Officer at Edinburgh University Alistair Fenemore said the hacker has tried to steal passwords by setting up fake login pages so staff and students give away their details.
Former MI5 and GCHQ officer, Dave Palmer, said: “Universities should be worrying about it.”
In August, cyber experts from the IT firm Secureworka revealed hackers linked with the Iranian government are targeting universities and academic institutions as part of a campaign to steal unpublished research.
The stolen papers are now available for purchase in Iran by sending an encrypted message to a phone number using WhatsApp or Telegram.
Last week the US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo criticised his predecessor John Kerry for meeting with Iranian officials and accused him of “actively undermining” the Trump administration’s policy towards Tehran.
President Trump has also accused the former secretary of state of “illegal” meetings with Iran in a late-night tweet.
President Trump said on Twitter: “John Kerry had illegal meetings with the very hostile Iranian Regime, which can only serve to undercut our great work to the detriment of the American people.
“He told them to wait out the Trump Administration! Was he registered under the Foreign Agents Registration Act? BAD!”
Six months ago the US Department of Justice revealed that Iranian hackers were targeting universities around the world.
They believe that the Iranians stole documents and data from more than 140 universities, 30 companies and five government agencies in the US.
The Trump administration believes Iranian government-linked hackers broke into the accounts of 8,000 professors to steal data and intellectual property.