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Trojan spy couple are expected to be jailed

Antony Savvas

A British-based Israeli couple are expected to be jailed in Israel for their part in an industrial espionage scandal involving the use of a Trojan data-tracking bug.

Ruth Brier-Haephrati, 28, and her 44-year-old husband Michael Haephrati, have entered a plea bargain to be sentenced to four and two years in jail respectively, after confessing their involvement in the Trojan horse case.

The plea, entered in a Tel Aviv court, also proposes that they should each have to pay one million New Israeli Shekels (£121,400) in compensation. The couple were extradited to Israel from Britain earlier this year.

According to the court, the couple were managers of the firm Target-Eya. Michael Haephrati is said to have developed the spyware Trojan horse, while his wife, Ruth, marketed it to several private investigators who bought the code and installed it onto the computers of their clients' rivals.

Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant at internet security software firm Sophos, said, “The Israeli authorities should be congratulated for bringing these cyber-criminals to justice - it sends a strong message that this kind of activity will not be tolerated.”

He added, “It remains to be seen however if the private investigators who deployed the Trojan horses on the computers of innocent businesses, and potentially made more money than this couple in the process, will also be officially held to account.”

The Haephrati's Trojan horse is said to have been used by private investigators to spy on both a PR agency, whose clients include Israel's second biggest mobile phone operator, Partner Communication, and a cable television station. 

Another alleged victim was Champion Motors, which imports Audi and Volkswagen motor vehicles. The Tel Aviv court will announce whether it accepts the Haephrati's plea bargain on 27 March.


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