The US Department of Justice reported the fines imposed on three former NSA employees who worked for an information security company in the United Arab Emirates and, in fact, were hackers for hire.
According to court documents, 49-year-old Mark Bayer, 34-year-old Ryan Adams and 40-year-old Daniel Guericke violated US export control laws, which require companies and individuals to obtain a special license from the State Department before they can provide foreign governments with services related to defence. The three defendants ended up agreeing to pay $ 750,000, $ 600,000 and $ 335,000 over three years to avoid jail time.
The story of Bayer, Adams and Genicke is well known and has made it onto the media page more than once. Their actions were first documented and made public during an investigation by Reuters in January 2019.
According to that publication and official statements from the Ministry of Justice, all three worked as contractors for DarkMatter in the UAE from January 2016 to November 2019. The former NSA analysts were part of Project Raven, a team within DarkMatter of more than ten former US intelligence officers. As part of this project, they helped develop two zero-click exploits for iOS (Karma and Karma 2). These exploits, designed specifically for the iPhone, were used by UAE authorities to spy on dissidents, reporters and opposition figures, according to Reuters.
The agreement with the Ministry of Justice, which Bayer, Adams and Genicke eventually concluded, includes other points in addition to fines. So, now the former employees of the NSA are prohibited from employment in some organizations in the UAE; they are deprived of permits for life in any work in the US special services; a ban was imposed on any work related to the operation of computer networks, as well as the export of defence products and the provision of defence services.
“These people chose to ignore the warnings and used their years of experience to support and reinforce the offensive cyber operations of the foreign government. Hired hackers and those who otherwise support such activities in violation of US law should expect to be prosecuted for their crimes, ”said Stephen D’Antuono, deputy head of the FBI’s Washington office.
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