‘Wizard’ arrested after hack of most Bulgarian taxpayers’ details | News

A 20-year-old Bulgarian cybersecurity worker was arrested on suspicion of involvement in a major hacking attack that stole millions of taxpayers’ personal and financial data.

The unidentified man was arrested on Tuesday afternoon. Officers raided his home and office in the capital Sofia and seized computer devices containing encrypted data, said Yavor Kolev, head of the police’s cybersecurity unit.

The National Revenue Agency (NRA) is facing a fine of up to 20 million euros ($22.43m) over the data breach, the biggest to affect the Balkan country. The attack compromised the records of nearly every adult among Bulgaria’s seven million people.

“Overnight, the relevant examination was carried out, a very initial one, which suggests that the suspect is connected to the crime,” Kolev said.

The investigation into the hack is still at an early stage, he added, and police are looking into the possibility that other people were involved.

Prosecutors in Sofia said the man was charged with a computer crime and would be held for another three days.

The attack reignited a long-running debate about lax cybersecurity standards in Bulgaria. A person claiming to be a Russian hacker and responsible for the breach emailed local media on Monday and denounced the government’s cybersecurity efforts as a “parody”.

Kolev said the arrested man was a researcher who tested computer networks for possible vulnerabilities to prevent cyber-attacks. But he also engaged in some criminal activity. “In his life, he has been on both sides,” he said.

‘Unique brains’

Speaking at a government meeting on Wednesday, Prime Minister Boyko Borissov described the arrested man as a “wizard” hacker and said the country should hire similar “unique brains” to work for the state rather than against it.

But some experts who examined the stolen data said the techniques used in the attack were relatively basic and spoke more to a lack of adequate data-protection measures than the hacker’s ability.

“The reason for the success of the attack does not seem to be the sophistication of the hacker, but rather poor security practices by the NRA,” said Bozhidar Bozhanov, chief executive at cybersecurity firm LogSentinel.

Bulgaria’s tax agency now faces a fine of up to four percent of its annual turnover, said Veselin Tselkov, a board member at the Commission for Personal Data Protection. 

European data protection rules, known as GDPR, came into force last year. Last week, British Airways’ owner was hit with a $230m fine – equivalent to 1.5 percent of the company’s turnover – over a hack that led to 500 million customers having their details compromised.

“The amount of the sanction depends on the number of people affected and the volume of leaked information,” Tselkov said, adding the commission was still waiting for a full report on the attack.

‘Possible dangers’

Bulgaria’s leading business organisation, BIA, which warned about possible flaws in the tax agency’s data-protection system a year ago, demanded that detailed information about the leaked documents be sent to every person and company affected.

“We need to know so that at least we can be aware of possible dangers,” said BIA deputy head Stanislav Popdonchev.

Bulgaria’s Finance Minister Vladislav Goranov apologised for the attack, which exposed the names of millions of people and companies and revealed information about incomes, tax declarations, health insurance payments and loans.

The hack happened at the end of June and compromised about three percent of the tax agency’s database. Officials said earlier this week initial signs suggested it was conducted from abroad.


SOURCE:
Al Jazeera and news agencies

Source

more recommended stories

  • Two killed in first Kashmir gun battle since lockdown began | India News

    Two people, including a police official.

  • Trump slammed for saying any Jew voting Democratic is ‘disloyal’ | USA News

    Activists, politicians and many within the.

  • Kashmir tensions: ‘War is not a solution’ | Kashmir News

    There is brewing conflict between nuclear-armed.

  • Indonesia’s Jokowi urges calm after violent West Papua protests | Indonesia News

    Indonesian President Joko Widodo has sought.

  • Danish PM: Trump’s idea of buying Greenland is ‘absurd’ | News

    Denmark‘s prime minister has said Greenland is.

  • Iran tanker departs after Gibraltar rejects US demand | Iran News

    The Iranian oil tanker at the.

  • Iceland bids farewell to first glacier lost to climate change | News

    With poetry, moments of silence and.

  • Former Malaysian PM Najib Razak in court for money laundering | Malaysia News

    Former Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak.

  • Blast at wedding in Afghan capital wounds at least 20: hospital | Afghanistan News

    An explosion has ripped through a.

  • Sudan protest leaders, military sign transitional government deal | News

    Sudan‘s main opposition coalition and the.

  • Tlaib won’t visit West Bank under ‘oppressive’ Israeli conditions | Israel News

    US congresswoman Rashida Tlaib has said.

  • Brother of Afghan Taliban leader killed in Pakistan mosque blast | Afghanistan News

    The brother of Afghan Taliban leader.

  • Malaysia to question Zakir Naik as government weighs deportation | News

    Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia – The Malaysian.

  • Gibraltar Supreme Court says Iranian tanker is free to sail | News

    Gibraltar’s Supreme Court has ruled that.

  • Pehlu Khan lynching: Indian state to appeal acquittal of accused | News

    A provincial government in India has said.

  • Japan’s Abe skips Yasukuni shrine visit but sends offering | News

    Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has.

  • Analysis: Saudi activist rejects release deal | Saudi Arabia News

    Saudi women’s rights activist Loujain al-Hathloul.

  • Blast strikes military base in Iraq’s Baghdad | Iraq News

    At least one person has been.

  • Will China run out of patience with Hong Kong protests? | Hong Kong protests

    Hong Kong’s leader Carrie Lam is.

  • Kyrgyz ex-President Atambayev was plotting coup: Security chief | News

    Former Kyrgyzstan President Almazbek Atambayev, who.

  • Opposition warns Maduro eyeing to dissolve Venezuela parliament | Venezuela News

    Venezuela’s pro-government Constituent Assembly was holding.

  • Hong Kong airport cancels Monday flights amid sit-in protest | News

    Hong Kong airport has suspended all.

  • Israel expels Filipino worker with Israeli-born son: NGO | News

    A Filipino migrant worker and her.

  • Yemeni official: UAE won in Aden, Saudi silent over ‘slaughter’ | Yemen News

    The interior minister of Yemen‘s internationally recognised.

  • Could the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen soon fall apart? | Yemen

    The war in Yemen looks like.

  • Southern Yemen separatists seize government camps in Aden | News

    Separatists in southern Yemen have taken.

  • El Paso shooting suspect told police he targeted ‘Mexicans’ | News

    The man accused of killing at.

  • Indian troops fire tear gas as mass protests erupt in Srinagar | India News

    Indian security forces have fired tear.

  • The Islamophobic roots of population control efforts in India | Islamophobia

    Mumbai, India – Across northern and central.

  • UN concern over Kashmir lockdown as hundreds reported arrested | India News

    The United Nations chief has expressed concern.

  • Lebanese daily publishes ‘no news’ edition to protest crisis | News

    Lebanon’s only English-language daily “refrained from.

  • Venezuela’s Maduro halts talks with opposition after US sanctions | Venezuela News

    Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has ordered.