An Israeli man was indicted by the Tel-Aviv District Court on 5 July 2018 for trying to sell top-secret spy software called Pegasus built for Israel’s government. The extremely sophisticated software gained notoriety for being able to hack into Apple iPhones.

The man worked as a senior programmer for NSO Group, which gave him access to all the company’s source code and tools. He tried to sell Pegasus for USD 50 million of cryptocurrencies on the darknet, wanting the deal to be separated into various cryptocurrencies to obfuscate his trail.

The Israeli was fired by NSO Group in February 2018 for connecting an external drive to company computers, after searching on the internet how to connect an external drive without being detected. He downloaded hundreds of millions of dollars worth of software and then hid the external drive under his bed.

Sometime later, he went to the darknet to find a buyer for Pegasus. The person contacted became suspicious of the deal and contacted NSO Group, after which point the contact cooperated to get the Israeli man arrested. The seller man was charged with theft, trying to damage property in a way that would hurt national security, marketing defense material without a permit, and interfering with computer material.

The Israeli man is being kept in custody throughout the court proceedings since he is considered a danger to national security. According to NSO Group, no top-secret data was leaked due to this incident.

The company said, “The company was able to quickly identify the breach, collect evidence, identify the perpetrator, and share its findings with the relevant authorities. The authorities, in turn, responded quickly and effectively, so that within a very short time the former employee was arrested and the stolen property was secured. No [intellectual property] or company materials have been shared with any 3rd party or otherwise leaked, and no customer data or information was compromised.”


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