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Former NSA operatives worked as cyber mercenaries

Image for an article titled DOJ: Former NSA employees worked as cyber mercenaries helping to hack US systems

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Former U.S. intelligence officials face federal charges after allegedly working in cyberspace.mercenaries for the United Arab Emirates. Men, all of which former National Security Agency employees accused of helping the UAE government hack computer systems around the world, including some recently uncovered in the US court documents lawsuit

Mark Bayer, 49, Ryan Adams, 34, and Daniel Guericke, 40, Accused of Violating Federal Computer Fraud and Export Regulations, Department of Justice announced on tuesday

Between 2016 and 2019, the trio worked as senior managers at Dark Matter, an Emirati cybersecurity company hired by the government. The team worked in a converted mansion in Abu Dhabi. part of the operation dubbed “Project Raven”, almost entirely staffed by former US intelligence officers. Their services have helped the Middle Eastern monarchy carry out hacking operations against their perceived enemies, including activists, political rivals, and journalists. Reuters previously reported

Part of the service provided by the Americans was the development of two zero-click attacks – sophisticated cyber attacks.intrusion techniques that can compromise the security flaws inherent in popular mobile operating systems. Attacks that can be carried out unnecessarily phishing purpose similar to those used the infamous Israeli spy firm NSO Group… The exploits allowed Dark Matter employees to hack into devices and “illegally obtain and use credentials to access online accounts issued by American companies, as well as gain unauthorized access to computers such as mobile phones around the world, including in the United States. “, The Ministry of Justice approves.

The raven, which had lasted for years, was eventually discovered, thanks in part to a group of informants.

To counterbalance the charges against them, the men agreed to pay heavy fines. which together up to $ 1.685 million. Fines are part of a deferred prosecution agreement that allows men to avoid jail time.

However, court documents clearly show that the actions of Bayer, Adams and Guericke were clearly illegal, and it is noted that the defendants “used illegal, fraudulent and criminal means, including the use of advanced covert hacking systems that used computer exploits obtained from the United States. States and other countries, to gain unauthorized access to secure computers in the United States and other countries, and to illegally obtain information, materials, documents, records, data, and personally identifiable information. “

“This agreement is the first of its kind to authorize the investigation of two different types of criminal activity: the provision of unlicensed export-controlled security services in support of the operation of computer networks, and a commercial company that creates, maintains and operates specially designed systems. to allow others to access data without permission from computers around the world, including in the United States, ”said Acting Assistant Attorney General Mark J. Lescaut of the Justice Department’s Homeland Security Division. “Mercenary hackers and those who otherwise support such activities in violation of US law must fully expect to be prosecuted for their criminal conduct.”

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