In Bulgaria, personal tax information belonging to 7 million working adult citizens was stolen from the National Revenue Agency (NRA), and then exposed on the internet. On account of the breach, the NRA is expected to incur a fine of $22.4 million.

A 20 year-old cybersecurity expert has been arrested in conjunction with the hack. Despite the criminal charges, Bulgaria’s Prime Minister Boyko Borissov called this young individual a “wizard,’ and commented that the government should hire more individuals with “unique brains,” like this young man’s.

In 2017, the same hacker allegedly snuck into the Bulgarian education ministry’s website simply to reveal that the site could not withstand a breach attempt. Afterwards, the individual commented that he initiated the hack as a means of “fulfilling…[his] civic duty.”

Police believe that other parties may be complicit in the hack as well. An investigation is currently underway.

On Monday, an individual identifying himself as a Russian hacker informed media outlets that he/she carried out the breach, and made comments ridiculing the Bulgarian government’s cybersecurity initiatives.

Bulgarian Academy of Sciences’ assistant professor, and cybersecurity expert, Dr. Vesselin Bontchev explained that the data extracted from this type of cyber attack can range in value from next to nothing to as much as a whopping $200 million. Whether the motives underlying this attack were financial or political remain to be determined.

According to Bulgaria’s Interior Minister, Mladen Marinov, the recent purchase of F-16 fighter jets from the United States may have served as a political catalyst for the incident. However, Finance Minister, Vladislav Goranov disagrees with the interior minister, saying that the cyberattack occurred prior to the approval of the jet purchase.

For his part, Goranov made a public apology on behalf of the National Revenue Agency.

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