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A Trojan horse made of malware infected devices at Tel Aviv University's Cyber Week conference. Photo: Jack Guez/AFP/Getty Images

An employee of NSO Group, an Israeli contractor known for its surveillance tools, is being charged for stealing the firm's internationally renowned "Pegasus" cell phone spyware and trying to sell it on the dark web for $50 million, according to the newspaper Globes.

Why it matters: When nations lack cyber espionage tools, they turn to contractors for off-the-shelf tools. Mexico was caught spying on politicians, lawyers and journalists with Pegasus last year. Pegasus is serious stuff, giving full access to a phone for surveillance or other purposes.

The details: In February, the unnamed 38-year old employee allegedly googled how to circumvent NSO's theft detection system and downloaded Pegasus.

  • On April 29, he was fired for unrelated reasons, only eight months into his tenure.
  • In May, the defendant began to google how to sell the stolen software on the black market.
  • He then offered to sell the software on the dark web to a buyer who, ultimately, contacted NSO.

The big picture: The software is substantially more powerful and stealthy than the threats most people face every day. For obvious reasons, Israeli law limits to whom NSO can sell their products. In the hands of a criminal network or terrorist group, Pegasus could give them espionage capabilities on par with certain governments.

Go deeper

Making sense of Biden's big emissions promise

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

President Biden's new U.S. emissions-cutting target is a sign of White House ambition and a number that distills the tough political and policy maneuvers needed to realize those aims.

Driving the news: This morning the White House unveiled a nonbinding goal under the Paris Agreement that calls for cutting U.S. greenhouse gas emissions by 50%-52% by 2030 relative to 2005 levels.

Biden pledges to cut greenhouse gas emissions by up to 52% by 2030

U.S. President Joe Biden seen in the Oval Office on April 15. (Photo by Doug Mills-Pool/Getty Images)

The Biden administration is moving to address global warming by setting a new, economy-wide greenhouse gas emissions reduction target of 50% to 52% below 2005 levels by 2030.

Why it matters: The new, non-binding target is about twice as ambitious as the previous U.S. target of a 26% to 28% cut by 2025, which was set during the Obama administration. White House officials described the goal as ambitious but achievable during a call with reporters Tuesday night.

2 hours ago - Health

Health care workers feel stress, burnout more than a year into the pandemic

Photo: Steve Pfost/Newsday RM via Getty Images

More than a year into the coronavirus pandemic, some 3 in 10 health care professionals say they've considered leaving the profession, citing burnout and stress, a Washington Post-Kaiser Family Foundation poll out Thursday indicates.

Why it matters: Studies throughout the pandemic have indicated rising rates of depression and trauma among health care workers, group that is no longer seeing the same public displays of gratitude as during the onset of the pandemic.