Three former US intelligence operatives helped building a hacking program for the UAE

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Marc Baier, Ryan Adams and Daniel Gericke , all former US intelligence or military operatives, are accused for helping build a hacking program for the United Arab Emirates government using computer exploits to break into computers in the US and around the world. The trio left a U.S.-based company that was operating in the UAE to joined an Emirati company that would give them “significant increases” in their salaries. The case, in federal court in Washington, accuses the former U.S. officials of violating American laws related to export control and computer fraud. The hacking program, known as Project Raven, involved providing the UAE government with potent hacking tools without an export license.

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The three men included sophisticated hacking tools that can infect a mobile device without the user having to click on anything, prosecutors said. They agreed to cooperate with prosecutors as part of a deal with the government that will see the charges suspended and the three men pay more than $1.6 million in penalties, that the Justice Department described Tuesday as the first of its kind. As part of the agreement, the three men did not dispute any of the facts alleged by prosecutors. Channing Phillips, acting US attorney for the District of Columbia, said in a statement that the “proliferation of offensive cyber capabilities undermines privacy and security worldwide.” The CIA warned in a letter earlier this year about “an uptick in the number of former officers who have disclosed sensitive information about CIA activities, personnel, and tradecraft.”