In systemic breach, hackers steal millions of Bulgarians’ financial data
17 Jul 2019

Bulgaria’s finance minister apologized to the country on Tuesday after admitting hackers had stolen millions of taxpayers’ financial data in an attack that one researcher said may have compromised nearly every adult’s personal records.

The breach of servers at the tax agency (NRA) happened at the end of June and an official there said it was probably carried out from abroad. A person claiming to be a Russian hacker emailed local media on Monday offering access to the stolen data.

The reason for the attack was not immediately clear.

But the email’s author, who described the government as corrupt, said hackers had compromised more than 110 databases, including “critically confidential” information from key administrations, some of which was being offered to journalists.

Finance Minister Vladislav Goranov said about 3% of the agency’s database was affected, involving millions of records in the nation of seven million, though the leaked information was not classified and did not endanger financial stability.

Summoned to parliament for an explanation, he apologized “to all Bulgarian citizens who have been made vulnerable”.

He said anyone who attempted to exploit the data “would fall under the impact of Bulgarian law”, and initial analysis of the information that had become public showed it was not enough to draw “substantive conclusions” about any citizen’s financial situation.

There was no immediate comment from authorities in Moscow, which have consistently denied accusations from foreign governments of Russian involvement in a spate of cyber attacks against mostly western interests.

UNPRECEDENTED

Cyber security researcher Vesselin Bontchev, assistant professor at the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, said the scale of the hack was huge.

“To the best of my knowledge, this is the first publicly known major data breach in Bulgaria,” he said. “It is safe to say that the personal data of practically the whole Bulgarian adult population has been compromised.”

The purported hacker’s email, seen by Reuters and sent from a Russian email address, said more than 5 million Bulgarian and foreign citizens as well as companies were affected.

By Angel Krasimirov and Tsvetelia Tsolova, Reuters, 16 July 2019

Read more at Reuters

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