DOJ: Former NSA Operatives Worked as Cyber-Mercenaries, Helping Hack U.S. Systems

Home Technology DOJ: Former NSA Operatives Worked as Cyber-Mercenaries, Helping Hack U.S. Systems
DOJ: Former NSA Operatives Worked as Cyber-Mercenaries, Helping Hack U.S. Systems
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Former U.S. intelligence operatives are facing federal charges after allegedly having worked as cyber-mercenaries for the United Arab Emirates. The men, all of whom are ex-employees of the National Security Agency, are accused of helping the UAE government to break into computer systems all over the world, including some in the U.S., newly unsealed court documents claim.

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Marc Baier, 49, Ryan Adams, 34, and Daniel Gericke, 40, are all charged with having broken federal laws related to computer fraud and export regulations, the Department of Justice announced Tuesday.

Between 2016 and 2019, the trio worked as senior managers at Dark Matter, an Emirati cybersecurity company employed by the government. Working out of a converted mansion in Abu Dhabi, the team was part of an operation dubbed “Project Raven,” the likes of which was staffed almost wholly by former U.S. intelligence officials. Their services helped the Middle Eastern monarchy to carry out hacking operations against its perceived enemies, including activists, political rivals and journalists, Reuters previously reported.

Part of the services provided by the Americans was the development of two “zero-click” exploit attacks—sophisticated cyber-intrusion techniques that can compromise security flaws implicit in popular mobile operating systems. Such attacks, which can be carried out without even needing to phish a target, are similar to the ones used by the notorious Israeli spyware firm NSO Group. The exploits allowed Dark Matter employees to hack into devices and “illegally obtain and use access credentials for online accounts issued by U.S. companies, and to obtain unauthorized access to computers, like mobile phones, around the world, including in the United States,” the DOJ claims.

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