By Shawn Lingas | CNN
The U.S. Department of Justice on Tuesday announced federal computer fraud charges against three men accused of helping to create hacking programs for the UAE government.
Mark Bayer, Ryan Adams and Daniel Jericho – all former U.S. intelligence or military personnel – have been accused of using computers to gain access to computers in the United States and around the world. The hacking program, known as Project Raven, involves providing powerful hacking equipment to the UAE government without an export license.
There have also been allegations against Bayer, Adams and Jericho of “secret hacking systems for UAE government agencies” altering computer exploitation and stealing personal identification information from people around the world.
The intelligence-gathering services provided by the three individuals include sophisticated hacking tools that can infect a mobile device without the user having to click on anything.
Bayer, Adams and Jericho agreed to cooperate with prosecutors as part of an agreement with the government that would see the charges suspended and the three would have to pay a fine of more than .6 1.6 million.
Lawyers for the three men could not immediately be reached for comment.
Project Raven is an example of a hacker-for-hire market, where government and private companies can similarly list digital tenants. In another case, BlackBerry researchers last year found dozens of malicious Google and Apple apps that they said were used to monitor targets in the Middle East and South Asia.
U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia Channing Phillips said in a statement that “the spread of offensive cyber power undermines global privacy and security.”
Phillips added that former U.S. government employees do not receive “free passes” in export control laws.
Glenn Gerstel, general counsel for the National Security Agency from 2015 to 2020, said U.S. intelligence officers received extensive training on their legal obligations when they left the government.
Former government employees, “especially in the field of defense and intelligence, have special responsibilities that they must respect,” Garstel told CNN.