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30 Sep, 2022 03:34

NSA employee tried to sell US hacking secrets

The cybersecurity staffer is accused of attempting to pass off sensitive material to a foreign agent
NSA employee tried to sell US hacking secrets

A former employee at the US National Security Agency has been charged for trying to hand classified information to an individual he believed to be “working for a foreign government,” according to the Department of Justice.

The DOJ announced federal espionage charges against 30-year-old Jareh Dalke on Thursday, claiming the former NSA information systems security designer attempted to sell sensitive info to an FBI agent posing as a foreign intelligence operative between July and August. 

“Dalke told that individual that he had taken highly sensitive information relating to foreign targeting of US systems, and information on US cyber operations, among other topics,” the department said in a statement, adding that the NSA worker “transmitted excerpts of three classified documents to the undercover FBI agent” to prove he possessed the material.

Two of those documents were marked Top Secret, while the third was at a lower level of classification.

The undercover agent ultimately sent Dalke an unspecified amount of cryptocurrency to receive the information, and Dalke promised to provide more in exchange for another $85,000.

While the Justice Department noted that the man served as a cybersecurity employee at the NSA for a short time between June 6 and July 1, it said Dalke was no longer working for the agency when communicating with the FBI agent. He was said to have “re-applied to the NSA” in August after taking “a temporary assignment at a field location” at another government agency, though it’s unclear why he ceased working for the spy agency to begin with.

Dalke allegedly agreed to transmit additional material “using a secure connection set up by the FBI at a public location” in Denver, Colorado, but was arrested when he attempted to go to the site on Wednesday. He faces three counts for violating the Espionage Act, a sweeping World War I-era law which carries a possible death sentence.