Former United States intelligence workers fined $1.68M for helping foreign governments with hacking services

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Working for the United States intelligence community comes with many strings attached when you’re active and when you’re no longer employed. Because of the secretive nature of intelligence agencies, former employees can be restricted from working in certain places.

Estimated reading time: 2 minutes

One thing you should probably not do is offer up hacking services to a foreign government like three U.S. citizens did for the United Arab Emirates. According to the DOJ, this violated U.S. Export Control and Computer Fraud and Abuse Laws. The three offenders are being fined very heavily for their errors.

The three defendants, Marc Baier, 49, and Ryan Adams, 34, and a former U.S. citizen, Daniel Gericke, 40 – all former U.S. Intelligence Community employees or the U.S. military – agreed to pay $1,685,000 in penalties as part of a deferred prosecution agreement. The agreement also restricts their future activities and employment.

According to Reuters, the defendants were part of a “clandestine unit named Project Raven that helped the UAE spy on its enemies.”

According to court documents, the defendants “supported and carried out computer network exploitation operations” – otherwise known as hacking – “for the benefit of the U.A.E government between 2016 and 2019.”

The defendants were warned that their work for the U.A.E. company constituted a defense service, which requires a license from the State Department’s Directorate of Defense Trade Controls (DDTC). Despite the warning, the defendants proceeded to provide services without a license.

Worse, one of the services provided is considered a particularly malicious type of hack known as “zero-click,” where malware can be downloaded without any user interaction. Typically, a user clicks on a malicious link, for example, to execute the malware.

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Working in the intelligence community isn’t a bad thing, but I suppose you need to be careful where you land once you’ve been in government intelligence.

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Last Updated on September 19, 2021.

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