News

IT duo to be extradited

Bill Goodwin

A UK court has approved the extradition of a London couple to Israel to face charges over IT-based industrial espionage.

Michael and Ruth Haephrati are accused of developing and supplying sophisticated Trojan horse software used by private detectives to recover confidential data from the computer systems of leading Israeli firms.

The businesses targeted suffered serious financial damage after private detectives allegedly used the software to steal copies of marketing plans, pay slips, advertising campaigns and business plans to pass on to rivals. More than 45 Israeli companies and individuals were targeted.

Israeli investigators believe Michael Haephrati may have sold the software to investigative agencies in London.

"If he sold this Trojan horse to private detectives in Israel, we assume he offered it to companies abroad also," police spokeswoman Pearl Liat told Computer Weekly following Haephrati's arrest in June.

Haephrati offered his services through a London-registered computer consultancy, Target Eye, which lists its specialities as security, intelligence and spyware.

According to Israeli court documents, the Trojan sent images and documents from the target computers to servers in Israel, Germany and the US.

Scores of businessmen and private detectives have been arrested in Israel, following investigations by the computer crime unit of the Tel Aviv fraud squad, Interpol, police in Germany and the US, and the UK's National Hi-Tech Crime Unit.

During the hearing in London, the judge ruled that there was prima facie evidence that the couple had received payments from Israeli private detective agencies.

Police have arrested two men in connection with the Zotob worm outbreak, which disabled computer systems in hundreds of companies across the world. Faid Essebar was arrested in Morocco and Atilla Ekici was arrested in Turkey.


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