Massive government hacks hit Bulgaria, Russia

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Two large-scale attacks have affected governments in Bulgaria and Russia.

In Russia, the Federal Security Service (FSB) was hacked in what is being called the largest data heist ever experienced there. The attackers managed to get their hands on 7.5 terabytes of data from a major contractor, SyTech, exposing the agency’s secret projects to de-anonymise Tor browsing, scrape social media, and aid the state in splitting its Internet off from the rest of the world.

BBC Russia broke the news and reported that a hacking group dubbed 0v1ru$ had breached the contractor who is tasked with a variety of Internet projects, and left a smiling Yoba Face on SyTech's homepage as well as pictures claiming to showcase the breach. 

0v1ru$ then passed the data itself to another, larger hacking group Digital Revolution, who had targeted the FSB before, and who shared the purloined data across a variety of media outlets and on Twitter, ridiculing the FSB by suggesting the agency should consider renaming one of its breached initiatives 'Project Collander'.

In Bulgaria, the records of five million Bulgarians from the country's tax revenue office were compromised. In a country of only seven million, this means that nearly everyone was affected.

The compromised information includes retirement pension information, addresses, incomes and names, all of which is reported to be available on hacking forums on the Internet.

A spokesman from the tax agency, which is now facing a fine of up to €20m, said the attack is believed to have happened in June.

A 20-year-old cyber security employee called Kristian Boykov was arrested in Bulgaria and charged with the hack. Police continues to investigate to determine if anyone else was involved.

During a government meeting last week, prime minister Boyko Borissov described the alleged hacker as a cyber 'wizard' and said the country should hire 'unique brains' like his to work for the state.

However, findings by LogSentinel’s experts who have scrutinised the stolen data said the techniques used in the attack were fairly basic and pointed more to inadequate data protection measures rather than the culprit’s exceptional skills.

Attacks against government targets are not as rare as one might think. There have been a spate of ransomware attacks against cities in the US over the last few months, and in 2008, a cyber espionage attack targeted US military computers. An attack on the German Parliament that carried on for six-months took place in 2014, and in 2016 the US Office of Personnel Management suffered a breach that exposed sensitive data belonging to more than 22 million people. And these are just the tip of the iceberg.

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