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27 Mar 2006

Court hands hefty fine and jail sentence to Israeli spyware couple, reports Sophos

Behind bars
The Haephratis have been sentenced to jail.

Experts at SophosLabs™, Sophos's global network of virus, spyware and spam analysis centres, have applauded an Israeli court's decision to fine Ruth and Michael Haephrati for developing and selling a spyware Trojan horse. Having previously entered into a plea bargain to be sentenced to four and two years in jail respectively, the married couple have also been fined two million shekels in compensation (approximately 244,000 pounds sterling) for their unlawful actions.

The Trojan horse, which helped private investigators spy on their clients' business competitors, was said to have been originally created by Michael Haephrati as a practical joke, before his wife decided to market the malicious program. Since the couple were arrested, several private investigators have also been indicted.

"It's encouraging to see that governments and law enforcement agencies all over the world are cracking down on the perpetrators of cyber crime," said Carole Theriault, senior security consultant at Sophos. "Industrial espionage through illegal software use is on the rise, and the only way to stamp it out is by ensuring that the guilty parties don't get off lightly. By dishing out both a jail sentence and a hefty fine, the Israeli court has sounded a stern warning that will hopefully deter others from committing such misdemeanours."

Sophos recommends that all computer users should ensure that they are running an automatically updated anti-virus product, security patches and firewall software.

About Sophos

More than 100 million users in 150 countries rely on Sophos as the best protection against complex threats and data loss. Sophos is committed to providing complete security solutions that are simple to deploy, manage, and use and that deliver the industry's lowest total cost of ownership. Sophos offers award-winning encryption, endpoint security, web, email, mobile and network security solutions backed by SophosLabs - a global network of threat intelligence centers.

Sophos is headquartered in Boston, US and Oxford, UK. More information is available at