By Antony Savvas
15 March 2006
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 (=A3121,400) 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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