NSO Group ex-employee arrested for attempting to sell phone Hacking Tool For $50 Million

Pierluigi Paganini July 06, 2018

Ex-employee at the surveillance firm NSO Group has been arrested and charged with stealing phone hacking tools from the company and attempting to sell it.

A former employee of one of the most popular surveillance firm, NSO Group, has been arrested and charged with stealing phone hacking tools from the company and attempting to sell it.

The employee attempted to sell the phone hacking tool for $50 million in the Darkweb.

NSO Group is owned by US private equity firm Francisco Partners Management, but the U.S. software company Verint Systems Inc. is in talks to buy the Israel company.

The company is one of the surveillance companies that allow their clients to spy on their targets through almost any smartphone.

According to a report published by The New York Times in 2016, NSO Group’s software, allowed to spy on 10 iPhones at a cost of $650,000, plus a $500,000 setup fee.

Israeli hacking firm NSO Group sells surveillance malware to spy on iPhones and Android devices, its main customers are intelligence agencies, law enforcement, and military.

I reported many news about the surveillance software developed by the NSO Group, named Pegasus it made the headlines in many cases.

In June 2017, journalists and activists in Mexico accused the government of spying on them with the Pegasus malware developed by the NSO Group. According to the New York Times report, at least three Mexican federal agencies have purchased some $80 million of spyware from NSO Group since 2011.

The researchers from the Citizenlab organization and the Lookout firm reported the software was used in targeted attacks against UAE human rights defender, Ahmed Mansoor.

 NSO Group

Recently a 38-year-old former NSO employee was identified as the author of the theft of the source code for the Pegasus spyware and attempted to sell it for $50 million.

According to an indictment filed by Israel’s attorney general, the man  copied the source code of the spyware from NSO’s networks to an external hard drive after disabling McAfee security software on his PC.

Investigators believe he decided to steal the code for the Pegasus spyware because he was going to lose his job.

Once the company fired the man on April 29, he contacted a member of a hacking group who claimed successfully broken into NSO Group systems and attempted to sell them the stolen software for $50 million.

Unfortunately for the former employee, the alleged member of the gang informed the company about their attempted sale on the dark web.

NSO Group quickly identified the unfaithful employee and reported the case to the authorities.

According to the company, no customer data or other sensitive information was compromised, but anyway, the availability of the source code could allow experts to unveil the surveillance network of the surveillance firm and the presence of the malware on devices worldwide.

Law enforcement arrested the man on June 5 and seized the stolen software. .

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Pierluigi Paganini

(Security Affairs – NSO Group,  cybercrime)

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