United Arab Emirates planned to target Intercept magazine

@ 2019/06/14
Foreigners hire American hacker teams to take down Americans.

US hackers at a controversial cybersecurity firm working for the United Arab Emirates government looked at hacking a US tech magazine for their Arab overlords.

The DarkMatter plan was to hack The Intercept and breach the computers of its employees.

The move was part of a crackdown against dissidents and critics of the Emirati government, code-named Project Raven, began in Baltimore. What got the UAE’s goat was an article in 2016 by reporter Jenna McLaughlin that revealed how the Maryland-based computer security firm CyberPoint assembled a team of Americans for a contract to hone UAE’s budding hacking and surveillance capabilities, leaving some recruits unsettled.

Much of the CyberPoint team was later poached by DarkMatter, a firm with close ties to the Emirati government and headquartered just two floors from the Emirati equivalent of the NSA, the National Electronic Security Authority, which later became the Signals Intelligence Agenc).

One of McLaughlin’s sources described the episode as something of a “hostile takeover” by the UAE government. NESA would go on to become Project Raven’s primary “client,” responsible for handing down groups and organizations to be targeted and compromised.

According to the hacking team source who chatted to The Intercept, the 2016 reporting revealing the connection between DarkMatter and the Emirati government made The Intercept a target. “When [McLaughlin’s first] article hit, it mentioned DarkMatter, so we had to tiger team a response to that”, said the source.

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