Sep 15, 2021 - Politics & Policy

3 ex-U.S. intelligence officials confess to hacking for UAE

The outside of the Department of Justice building.
Photo: Samuel Corum/Getty Images

Three former U.S. intelligence officers agreed to pay nearly $1.7 million in penalties over three years after admitting to violating U.S. hacking and export laws while employed by the United Arab Emirates, the Department of Justice announced Tuesday.

Why it matters: The men confessed to supplying the UAE government with advanced offensive cyber technology that could be used to illegally gain access to computers, including mobile phones, around the world.

  • Marc Baier, Ryan Adams and Daniel Gericke also agreed to a lifetime ban on future U.S. security clearances and certain restrictions to their future employment options in order to resolve an investigation into their actions.

The big picture: Baier, Adams and Gericke worked for DarkMatter, a company that is an arm of the UAE government, according to the New York Times.

  • They admitted to carrying out hacking operations for the UAE government between 2016 and 2019, the Justice Department said.
  • With the technology the three men supplied, UAE cyber officials were able to breach the servers for an undisclosed U.S. company, giving them access to "any of the tens of millions of smartphones and mobile devices" using that company's operating system over an 18-month period.

What they're saying: “Hackers-for-hire and those who otherwise support such activities in violation of U.S. law should fully expect to be prosecuted for their criminal conduct," said Mark Lesko, the acting assistant attorney general for the Justice Department’s National Security Division.

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