ExpressVPN stands behind CIO named in UAE hacking scandal

ExpressVPN said it plans to stand by its CIO after Daniel Gericke was named by the U.S. Department of Justice as one of three people who were fined for allegedly providing “hacking-related services” to the government of the United Arab Emirates.

In an announcement earlier this week, the DOJ said that Gericke, 40, Marc Baier, 49, and Ryan Adams, 34, would be paying out fines adding up to $1.68 million in a deferred prosecution agreement (DPA) that settles charges related to their work for an unnamed company that contracted with the UAE government to provide state-sponsored hacking services.

According to the DOJ’s complaint, the trio and their company had contracted with the UAE government between 2015 and 2019 to break into accounts owned by targeted individuals and companies under the brand name “DarkMatter.”

According to the complaint, the accounts were from an unnamed vendor of smartphones and operating systems. Some of those targeted were U.S. citizens or companies based in the U.S.

“These services included the provision of support, direction and supervision in the creation of sophisticated ‘zero-click’ computer hacking and intelligence gathering systems — i.e., one that could compromise a device without any action by the target,” the DOJ said.

“[DarkMatter] employees whose activities were supervised by and known to the defendants thereafter leveraged these zero-click exploits to 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.”

As part of the deal, the three did not have to admit to any wrongdoing, but will have to pay the fines (Gericke’s share was $335,000) and agree to restrictions on “future activities and employment.”

We’ve known the key facts relating to Daniel’s employment history since before we hired him, as he disclosed them proactively and transparently with us from the start. In fact, it was his history and expertise that made him an invaluable hire for our mission to protect users’ privacy and security.
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In Gericke’s case, those restrictions do not…