Bulgaria probes Russia-linked leak of taxpayer data

SOFIA (AFP) – Bulgaria ordered yesterday a probe into the leak of a trove of taxpayer data in a Russia-linked cyberattack that was disclosed on the same day the former Soviet satellite nation moved to buy United States (US)-made F-16 jet fighters.

On Monday anonymous hackers sent several Bulgarian media outlets a link to tens of thousands of files with sensitive taxpayer information that they said came from a Finance Ministry server.

The email was sent from an address registered with the Russian Internet provider Yandex, sparking speculation that the attack came from Russia.

“We can also make a political analysis. Yesterday the government took an important decision to buy F-16 fighters, and the email is Russian,” Interior Minister Mladen Marinov told bTV television yesterday.

Bulgaria, now a member of the NATO alliance, wants to buy eight F-16 fighter jets to replace its ageing fleet of Soviet MiG-29 aircraft.

According to local media, the leaked documents came from a government database and included personal identification numbers and income figures belonging to over one million people and legal entities.

The hackers claimed they had another 10 gigabytes of similar data and that in total there is information on as many as five million people.

“Your government is retarded. The state of your cyber security is a parody,” the hackers said in a message written in English.

After a meeting of the national security council yesterday, officials sought to play down the extent of the leak and the possible link to Russia.

“Three per cent of the total NRA database was hit by the attack,” said Finance Minister Vladislav Goranov, referring to the National Revenue Agency that handles tax matters.

He ordered a probe into the cyberattack and said NRA operations were not at risk.