5 MILLION BULGARIANS HAVE THEIR PERSONAL DATA STOLEN IN HACK MAKING ABOUT 70% OF THEIR POPULATION

Christian Boykov:

A 20-year-old computer programmer, the police announced Wednesday, in connection with a breach that underscores the vulnerability of vast troves of digitized information, named Christian Boykov. The arrested suspect, Christian Boykov, is a cybersecurity expert who has been training officers of the GCDPC for fighting organized cybercrime.


NEWS:

Boykov was in the news two years ago, when he found a vulnerability in the website of the Ministry of Education and Science (MES) and contacted “Lords of the Air,” a popular TV show to tell the story only after the ministry ignored his initial disclosure.


After that incident, Boikov was hired as an ethical hacker by the global cybersecurity company “TAD Group,” and at the moment of arrest, he was an employee of the company, where his job responsibility was to pen test the systems in the state agencies and private companies for potential vulnerabilities.

It’s not clear if he is behind the NRA data breach, but he has been arrested
It appears that until now, the hacker, who claimed to be a Russian man, has only released 57 out of a total of 110 compromised databases, which is about 21GB in total.

In a follow-up announcement, the NRA said almost 20 days ago, the attacker unauthorizedly accessed about 3 percent of the information contained in their databases.

The NRA said,

“Currently, e-services for citizens and businesses are functioning normally, with the exception of the VAT refund service paid abroad, as well as by the revenue office. Unregulated access to sensitive information is limited”.


THE BREACH:

The breach was the largest theft of personal data ever reported in the Balkans — Bulgaria’s prime minister convened an emergency meeting of the nation’s security agencies — and just the latest in a series of attacks that have exposed how much data remains insecure online despite a series of recent high-profile thefts.


THE DANGER:

Dr. Vesselin Bontchev, an assistant professor at the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences and a cybersecurity expert, said that the government — like many others — needed to broaden its view of what is vital to national security.

He said,


“Many government officials, were worried mostly about the usual that gets discussed in the Western press — hybrid warfare, Russian disinformation and meddling, attacks against the critical infrastructure — that sort of thing.”

Moreover, he added,
But those were “largely theoretical problems,”

“I didn’t see anyone being particularly worried about viruses, ransomware, data breaches, phishing, and other everyday cybersecurity problems. Although, arguably, the National Revenue Agency is critical infrastructure.”

The breach of the National Revenue Agency, Bulgaria’s tax authority, is believed to have occurred in June and may have continued for some time. It was not made public until Monday after news outlets around the country received an email — which came from a Russian address — claiming responsibility for the attack.

Most attacks of this nature in Eastern and Central Europe are financially motivated, the tactic of criminal gangs looking to sell the information or use it for blackmail. David Balson, the director of intelligence at Ripjar, a security company in Britain, said it was becoming easier and easier to conduct this type of attack, with open-source tools readily available online.
Personal data, including job titles and their associated income, would be of interest to all kinds of actors. “There’s a lot of incentive to go after this data, regardless of the barriers to entry,” he said.

The value of this kind of data could range from $10 to a few hundred per identity, he said. “You’re looking at a hack that could be worth as much as $200 million,” he said.

THE CRITICISM:

Maya Alexandrova, a senior associate at a law firm in Sofia specializing in cybersecurity, said Bulgaria had introduced a legal framework for dealing with cybersecurity issues only last year. Private companies, she said, have been working to enhance their defenses.

She said,

“Unfortunately, I could not say the same thing for the government authorities & the state authorities are not keeping up.”

As consequences of the incident, Bulgaria’s NRA tax agency is now facing a fine of up to 20 million euros ($22.43 million) or 4% of the agency’s annual turnover over the data breach, said Prof. Veselin Tselkov, a member of the Commission for Personal Data Protection.

The authorities acknowledged that Bulgaria’s national tax agency was hacked after a news outlet received an email on Monday with a taunt and a claim of responsibility. The names, addresses, incomes and social security information of as many as five million Bulgarians and foreign residents — in a country of only seven million — had been taken.
The self-proclaimed hacker emailed,

“The state of your cybersecurity is a parody”

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