Israeli media reports say an Emirati cyber security company has been recruiting graduates of the Israeli military’s cyber unit, offering them lavish salaries and properties.
Both Israel’s Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper and TheMarker business daily reported this week that Abu Dhabi-based DarkMatter firm has been headhunting graduates from the Israeli military’s Unit 8200, the equivalent of Britain’s Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) or America’s National Security Agency (NSA).
Yedioth Ahronoth said Friday that Unit 8200 veterans are regularly offered $100,000-plus salaries, with bonuses and luxury homes in Cyprus.
It cited several unnamed ex-soldiers as saying how they were contacted by foreign intelligence firms “out of the blue” with lucrative employment offers.
‘A’ and other graduates told Yedioth Aharonoth that they had been offered $100,000 a month (excluding bonuses) as well as a “relocation with a beach view.”
The newspaper also said DarkMatter had been relocating Israelis to hotels and resorts in Thailand, where they worked on a freelance basis.
The Emirati company was founded in 2015 by telecom entrepreneur Faisal al-Bannai. It has around 650 employees in several countries, including Cyprus, Singapore, China, Finland and Canada.
In an interview with Associated Press last year, al-Bannai acknowledged that his company was recruiting Western intelligence analysts, mainly from the NSA and CIA, but made no mention of Israelis.
Separately, TheMarker reported on Friday that DarkMatter’s office in Cyprus employs Israeli software developers.
A defense official identified as ‘Y’ warned about the “de facto smuggling of Israeli intellectual property without any supervision of” the ministry of military affairs.
“They’re taking these young people to Cyprus, buying them off with huge salaries,” he said. “I know of researchers who were tempted with salaries of close to $1 million a year.”
In 2017, the New York Times reported that the private Israeli cyber intelligence firm NSO Group has suffered employee departures, all of them Unit 8200 graduates.
The report said that a private investigator had found that the former employees had moved to Cyprus, where they were working at a research and development facility owned by DarkMatter.
The Israeli regime and the UAE do not have formal diplomatic relations, but they are said to have close security cooperation.