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Bulgaria Links Hacking Attack To Plans To Buy Military Jets From U.S.

Interior Minister Mladen Marinov (file photo)

SOFIA -- A massive hacking attack in Bulgaria via a Russian website might be linked to Sofia's decision to buy military jets from the United States, the Balkan country's interior minister said, as the government's Security Council gathered to assess the situation.

Mladen Marinov told reporters in Sofia on July 16 that the personal financial data of some 5 million Bulgarians and foreign expatriates residing in the country have been released from a Russia-based e-mail domain after Bulgaria's National Revenue Agency’s (NRA) systems suffered a hacking attack on July 15.

Marinov stressed that e-mails with stolen personal financial data and statements calling for the resignation of Bulgarian Finance Minister Vladislav Goranov were spread immediately after Bulgaria agreed to buy eight new Lockheed Martin F-16 fighters for $1.26 billion from the United States.

"Organized criminal groups involved in cyberattacks usually seek financial profits, but [in this case] political motives are possible. The government decided yesterday to buy F-16 jets, and the e-mails calling for Goranov's resignation came from Russia. One can make a guess here," Marinov said, adding that an investigation is under way.

Prime Minister Boiko Borisov on July 16 called an extraordinary session of the government's Security Council to discuss the situation.

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