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Bulgaria’s tax agency hacker released

A cybersecurity expert accused of hacking the data of more than 5 million Bulgarian taxpayers was released by police Wednesday after his charges were downgraded.

Kristian Boykov, a 20-year-old Bulgarian cybersecurity worker, was arrested in Bulgaria's capital Sofia last week in connection to the breach. Police raided his home and seized computers and mobile devices with encrypted information. The hacker was found by police through the computer and software used in the attack, according to the Sofia prosecutor's office.

Due to his work, which involves testing computer networks for potential vulnerabilities, some believe Boykov is a "white hat hacker" — a hacker that breaks into computer networks to expose vulnerabilities and push for the weaknesses to be fixed.

He has made news in Bulgaria before. In 2017, he hacked the Bulgarian education ministry's website to expose its vulnerabilities. In a television interview, he described the work as "fulfilling my civic duty."

Sofia prosecutors claim they tracked one of the stolen files from the latest data breach to a username used by Boykov. Boykov and his lawyer reject the allegations against him and say he was not involved in the incident.

The hack of the nation's tax agency database is believed to be the largest data breach in Bulgaria's history. Nearly every working adult in Bulgaria was impacted. In a country of 7 million, more than 5 million people had personal data such as social security information, addresses, incomes and names leaked and made easily accessible on the Internet.

Boykov was initially charged with a computer crime against critical infrastructure, with a maximum sentence of eight years in jail. Those charges were dropped and he was given a lesser charge of crime against information systems, which has a maximum jail sentence of three years.

The initial hack is believed to have happened in June. The breach remained undetected until an email from a Russian email address was sent to Bulgarian news outlets last week claiming responsibility for the attack. In the email, the sender claimed to be a Russian hacker, gave downloadable links to the stolen information and mocked Bulgaria's cybersecurity efforts.

Bulgarian security expert arrested for demonstrating a vulnerability in software for kindergartens


Recently, the Bulgarian police detained an information security specialist Petko Petrov, who published a video about the vulnerability in the IT system of the municipality used in local kindergartens.

Bulgarian security researcher Petko Petkov discovered a vulnerability in the software used in local kindergartens. Petkov made a video demonstrating the vulnerability and posted it on Facebook about a week ago, on June 25. The video shows an automated attack on the portal of the local municipality, through which parents apply for admission of their child to kindergarten. The security expert was able to download the data of almost 236 thousand inhabitants of the Bulgarian city of Stara Zagora where more than 330 thousand people live using such vulnerability.

The specialist wrote a comment to the video that he tried to contact the software developer Information Services AD and the municipal authorities, but his reports about the vulnerability were ignored. Therefore, Petkov published a video to draw attention to the problem. Also, the man posted in the same comment a link to GitHub with PoC-code, opening access to it to everyone.

Even worse, the research explains that the same system is used in other Bulgarian cities, which means that hackers can freely obtain personal data of residents, including passport, information about their marital status, nationality, their relatives, etc.

Shortly after the public disclosure of information about the vulnerability, Bulgarian law enforcement officers arrested Petkov. He was arrested for 24 hours, but the researcher was later released.

According to the Bulgarian Media, the Prosecutor's office intends to charge the man under the article "illegal access to computer information protected by law". Petkov faces from one to three years in prison and a fine of about $ 2,900.

Although the man is now in trouble with the law, he achieved his goal - the problem was noticed, and after the incident the municipality refused to use vulnerable software, as they also failed to contact its developers and get official comments. The Mayor of Stara Zagora Zhivko Todorov told the media that the developer will eliminate the vulnerability at their own expense.