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Programmer Tried to Sell Cyberweapon on Dark Web for $50M: Reminder to Secure Employees

A senior programmer at Israeli security contractor NSO Group facing dismissal from his role stole the source code for the firm’s powerful spyware Pegasus and attempted to sell it on the dark web for $50 million, according to Israeli newspaper Globes.

The employee began working at the company in November 2017, and had access to its computer servers, software, and product source code. According to an indictment cited in Globes, it was made clear that the employee was not allowed to remove or transfer any information belonging to the company from the workplace, or to connect external storage devices to company computers without approval. NSO computers even had security software installed to prevent external storage devices from being connected, according to the report.

Despite these rules, in February, the employee Googled how to get around this security software, and was able to connect an external drive to his workstation, without the company’s knowledge. In April, he was called to a hearing and was dismissed from the company for unrelated reasons, the newspaper report noted. At this point, he connected an external storage device to company servers and downloaded the Pegasus software and source code.

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The Government Technology & Services Coalition's Homeland Security Today (HSToday) is the premier news and information resource for the homeland security community, dedicated to elevating the discussions and insights that can support a safe and secure nation. A non-profit magazine and media platform, HSToday provides readers with the whole story, placing facts and comments in context to inform debate and drive realistic solutions to some of the nation’s most vexing security challenges.

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