Disgruntled employee accused of peddling stolen spyware

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(Bloomberg) -- A senior programmer facing dismissal at Israeli spyware developer NSO Group Ltd. has been charged with stealing hundreds of millions of dollars worth of cyberarms technology and trying to sell it on the darknet.

The accused’s actions posed a threat to state security, and could have led to NSO’s collapse, the Justice Ministry said Thursday. NSO employed around 500 people at the time and was worth about $900 million, according to the ministry.

Following a pre-dismissal hearing with management, the 38-year-old employee downloaded the software to a mobile storage device, bypassing security systems, the ministry said. He then allegedly made contact with an unidentified individual on the darknet, representing himself as a member of a group of hackers who had successfully penetrated NSO’s computers.

He offered to sell the software for $50 million, but his contact reported him to NSO, and he was arrested in early June, the ministry said.

NSO “was able to quickly identify the breach, collect evidence, identify the perpetrator and share its findings with the relevant authorities,” the company said by email. No intellectual property “or company materials have been shared with any third party or otherwise leaked, and no customer data or information was comprised,” it added.

Verint Systems Inc. was said in May to be in talks to buy NSO for about $1 billion from controlling shareholder Francisco Partners, according to a Wall Street Journal report.

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