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Israeli private investigators jailed for using spyware to steal commercial information

Four members of an Israeli private investigation team have reportedly been jailed after using spyware to steal commercial information from organisations on behalf of rivals.

According to local media reports, the convicted men, who worked for the Modi'in Exrahi detective firm, were using Trojan Horses developed by London-based couple Michael and Ruth Haephrati. The couple were fined and imprisoned by an Israeli court in 2006 for selling the programs to a number of other private investigation bureaux.

Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant at anti-malware provider Sophos, said, "Firms need to be very careful about the third parties they hire to help them grow their business and seek assurances that their partners will not be behaving illegally or unethically. If they do not, the consequences could not only be a swathe of bad publicity, but also a spell in prison."

Asaf Zlotovsky, a manager at the private investigation firm, was given a 19-month jail sentence, and Haim Zissman and Ron Bahoum were imprisoned for 18 and nine months respectively. Yitzhak Rett, the company's former chief executive was fined £36,500 and will face 10 months on parole as a result of plea-bargaining.

Alleged victims of Haephrati spyware include the HOT cable TV group, the Rani Rahav PR agency and Champion Motors, which imports Volkswagen and Audi vehicles to Israel.


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