Trojan horse creator held

London police have arrested two computer consultants who are believed to be part of an Israeli industrial espionage scandal in which malicious software was used to steal corporate secrets.

The Metropolitan Police arrested Michael Haephrati, 41, and his wife Ruth Haephrati, 28, in London last week on allegations of computer hacking, a police spokesman said Tuesday.

According to several media reports, the two are thought to be part of a group of software programmers and business executives being investigated by Israeli police for industrial espionage. Michael Haephrati allegedly created a type of malicious software program, known as a Trojan horse, which was sent to corporate computers via an e-mail attachment and then used for spying, the reports said.

Although the Met spokesman declined to comment on the espionage allegations, he confirmed that London police have received a provisional extradition request by Israeli authorities.

The couple is currently being held and due to appear in court on Friday, the spokesman said.

Israeli police authorities weren’t immediately available to comment on Tuesday. However, investigators told the Tel Aviv-based Haaretz newspaper earlier this week that they have arrested 18 people in relation to the case.

Meanwhile, e-mail security firm MessageLabs Inc. warned Tuesday that it is no longer uncommon for companies to receive these kind of targeted malware attacks. Security researchers are advising companies to keep their antivirus software up-to-date.

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