The NRS, Dancho Danchev, and A Beautiful Mind
The case of Dancho Danchev’s going missing is now beginning to turn into a story of either potential mental illness, or, that of a classic tale of Bulgarian secret services removing a problem. It would seem that today, after Dancho’s being missing since September, reports are coming out that he was in fact in a mental health facility per his mothers request. The story is still coming to light, but, the case does present some interesting ideas for anyone in the information security business like Dancho or others (@ioerror etc) who might poke certain forces in the eye with their research and reporting.
In the case of Dancho, he seemed to be indicating by the email sent before his disappearance, that he felt he was being surveilled electronically as well as perhaps physically. The images in the email are not conclusive of anything that would indicate a bug or surveillance system had been placed in his house. However, this is not to say that the inverter that he found could not have been used in some way for such a system. Usually such bugs are small and powered by batteries or, in the case of the higher tech ones, piggyback off the power of the phone lines or hard wire electrical systems. Depending on the power requirements though, the inverter may have indeed been something that was used to alter power for operational function.
Surveillance technology aside, the fact is that Dancho, who’s blog I am only now coming aware of, does have some potential information that could have poked the wrong badger. The badger in this case would be Eastern bloc baddies who are making money off of botnets and malware that Dancho was revealing in his ZDnet blog and his blogspot. He perhaps hit a little too close to home for someone and they just made a call to the state security apparatus. Or, maybe in fact, he has begun to manifest symptoms of schizoid behavior, he is after all, in the right age range to do so. However, given a read through his writings online, I cannot at present see anything that leads me to believe that he is manifesting a mental illness here. His postings are cogent and have none of the aphasia characteristics that would lead anyone to believe he is ill.
So, where does that leave us?
That leaves us with a convenient hospitalization ostensibly provoked by his mother at present. However, let me remind you of where Dancho is from and just what the NRS history is like.
Lets just put it this way.. Bulgaria’s apparatus has never been known for its cuddly nature. So, is it impossible that Dancho was taken to the hospital as a means to an end? Perhaps this was just a nice warning eh? After all, if they just disappeared him, he may have had some data somewhere that was set to go out in just such an instance. Either way, by taking Dancho in to the hospital, if indeed they did it as a means to an end, it would potentially leave him with less credibility in the security community. This would especially be true if he was “diagnosed” with bipolar or schizoid delusions would it not?
It is all supposition at present and hopefully soon Dancho will be able to tell his tale himself. Until then though, all of must take a moment and ponder the climate out there today.
- Wikileaks workers are being detained and surveilled by the US
- Laptops, cell phones, and any electronics going in and out of the US are subject to seizure and search via exigent circumstances
- Warrant-less searches of cell phones are now legal in California.. How long until that is a national law?
- Said Wikileaks detentions involve no criminal charges but are able to hold the individual without allowing them legal representation because they are “not” under arrest
- National Security Letters are being over used and carry gag orders that place the recipients in dire straights on their own rights
I could go on, but you get the point. In today’s networked and digital world, we have outpaced the governments who “govern” us and frankly, this scares them I think. Granted, much evil can be done by those savvy enough to use the technologies for ill, but, what about those who are seeking redress on governments bad actions? This seems to be something that has been happening in the Wikileaks age that we now are in… And there is the crux of the issue. Wikileaks may in fact be pointing out some things that are patently wrong actions by governments and corporations and for this, I support their ideal. I may not in fact agree with their means lately though.
What has happened since the Wikileaks dumps has been scary from my perspective. A clamping down on freedoms, a seeking of means to control the data flows to the point of a national digital ID system, and an over use of classification in order to keep control over their machinations instead of having an open government. Of course there should be secrets, and of course the governments of the world have a right to that, but, just what is the mental calculus that derives where one is appropriate and the other is not?
So, Dancho’s disappearance could happen to any of us I think in our current climate. Here in the states, you might not get disappeared, but you certainly could be detained and searched repeatedly like @ioerror.
Keep your whits about you kids.. And be careful which badgers you poke.
Article from ThreatPost