Three former US intelligence agents admitted to committing hacking crimes against the country and providing sophisticated computer hacking tools to the United Arab Emirates, according to court documents made public on Tuesday.
The three hackers that include two US nationals and a former American citizen agreed to pay the penalty of $1.68 mn under a legal settlement with the federal government in a bid to avoid prosecution, said US Justice Department.
The operatives, Marc Baier, Ryan Adams and Daniel Gericke, all former employees of the US Intelligence community, worked as senior managers in a UAE-based company called DarkMatter, reported the New York Times. The Justice Department alleged that while working with the company, the three conducted hacking operations for the benefit of the UAE government.
The department accused the three men of committing computer fraud and violating export control laws by providing defense services without the required license.
It alleged that between 2016 and 2019, the three men provided access to “zero-click” computer hacking services which could compromise a “device without any action by the target”. These were then used to “obtain unauthorized access to computers, like mobile phones, around the world, including in the US,” said the Justice Department statement.
According to the media reports, the issue came to the fore after Lori Stroud, a former National Security Advisor and a former employee with DarkMatter raised the alarm with authorities about the Abu Dhabi-based organization hacking US citizens.
“This is progress,” she told AP, as she saw the case come to a resolution.
The UAE government has so far not issued a statement in the matter, reported AP, adding that the email sent to the officials at DarkMatter could not be delivered.
In 2018, DarkMatter’s founder and CEO, Faisal al-Bannai, had told AP that the…