Ex-employee of Israeli cyber firm charged with trying to sell stolen tech on the dark web

Ex-employee of Israeli cyber firm charged with trying to sell stolen tech on the dark web
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A former employee of an Israel-based cybersecurity firm that sells advanced smartphone surveillance software has been charged in Israel with stealing sensitive technology and trying to peddle it on the dark web for $50 million.

Israel’s Ministry of Justice on Thursday said that the actions of the unnamed individual, who worked for Israel-based NSO Group, had the potential to harm national security, according to The Times of Israel

The suspect, who was arrested in June, allegedly downloaded software and information belonging to the NSO Group while still working there. The person then unsuccessfully tried to sell the information to a would-be buyer on the internet, demanding $50 million in virtual currency in exchange for the data.

That individual then reported the incident to the company, which then contacted police. 

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Israel’s Justice Ministry said in a statement that the suspect presented “a real danger to NSO and could have led to its collapse” and that “the activities of the suspect endanger national security.”

The statement did not expand on the details of the potential national security threat.

Israeli news outlets were first to report on the indictment on Thursday, which was filed last week but kept under seal until now. Some of the case’s details are still subject to a gag order, and the suspect’s identity has not yet been revealed.

The NSO Group told Bloomberg in a statement that the company “was able to quickly identify the breach, collect evidence, identify the perpetrator and share its findings with the relevant authorities.” 

The company further said no intellectual property or company data was shared with a third party or leaked, and that no customer data was compromised. 

The NSO Group, based in Israel, develops and sells sophisticated smartphone surveillance technology to governments. The company attracted scrutiny last year over allegations that it sold its advanced “Pegasus” spyware to the Mexican government which was then used to spy on journalists, anti-corruption defenders and other citizens.

Reuters reported in May that Verint Systems, a U.S.-based software firm, was negotiating to purchase the NSO Group for $1 billion.