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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.

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Updated 1 hour ago - World

Over 3,000 detained in protests across Russia demanding Navalny's release

Russian police officers beat protestesters at a rally against of jailing of oppositon leader Alexei Navalny in Moscow on Saturday. Photo: Mikhail Svetlov/Getty Images

Police in Russia on Saturday arrested more than 3,300 people as protesters nationwide demanded that opposition leader Alexey Navalny be released from jail.

Details: Demonstrations began in the eastern regions of Russia and spread west to more than 60 cities.

Updated 3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Arizona Republicans censure Cindy McCain and GOP governor

Combination images of Cindy McCain and Gov. Doug Ducey. Photo: FilmMagic/FilmMagic for U.S.VETS/Michael Brochstein/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Arizona Republican Party members voted on Saturday to censure prominent GOP figures Cindy McCain, Gov. Doug Ducey and former Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), who've all faced clashes with former President Trump.

Why it matters: Although the resolution is symbolic, this move plus the re-election of the Trump-endorsed Kelli Ward as state GOP chair shows the strong hold the former president has on the party in Arizona, despite President Biden winning the state in the 2020 election.

Updated 6 hours ago - Politics & Policy

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Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

  1. Health: Most vulnerable Americans aren't getting enough vaccine information — Fauci says Trump administration's lack of facts on COVID "very likely" cost lives.
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  3. Vaccine: Florida requiring proof of residency to get vaccine — CDC extends interval between vaccine doses for exceptional cases.
  4. World: Hong Kong puts tens of thousands on lockdown as cases surge — Pfizer to supply 40 million vaccine doses to lower-income countries — Brazil begins distributing AstraZeneca vaccine.
  5. Sports: 2021 Tokyo Olympics hang in the balance.
  6. 🎧 Podcast: Carbon Health's CEO on unsticking the vaccine bottleneck.