An engineer from the Isreali cybersecurity firm NSO Group has been arrested for attempting to sell the top-secret Pegasus spyware on the dark web, the Times of Israeli reports.
The engineer tried to sell the spyware for $50 million worth of Monero (XMR), Zcash (ZEC) and Verge (XVG) to an unspecified recipient but was caught and arrested by Isreali authorities.
The Pegasus spyware is a type of iPhone malware developed by NSO Group to assist the government in hacking cellphones of suspected criminals. The man, from the city of Netanya, has been accused of endangering national security and theft of company property.
Although the sale did not go through, State Prosecutors filed an indictment against the suspect last week on security, theft and damage charges, obstruction and interfering with computer software and attempt to market defense material.
Prior to the incident, the employee was going to be fired for breaking company policy and attaching an external hard drive to the company network. However, despite the company having knowledge of the security breach he was still given the opportunity to return to his computer, at which time he copied the software.
Considering the risks at stake it’s surprising that he was allowed to return to his machine and doesn’t reflect very well on the security policies of NSO Group. It’s bad enough that governments have this software without it ending up in even less reputable hands.
The NSO Group was made aware of the attempted sale by a potential buyer who contacted them after seeing the spyware for sale on a dark web site. As a result, the engineer was arrested by the Israeli cyber crimes unit and indicted at the Tel Aviv District Court.
Pegasus is a highly controversial spyware that is used by a number of governments worldwide to spy on not only potential criminals but also innocent citizens such as activists and journalists.
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