The main suspect who was arrested in the police investigation into large-scale theft of private data was engaged in cybersecurity during the day. He helped protect companies against hackers both voluntarily and in his work.
For example, he worked as a volunteer for the organization DIVD, which conducts research into unsafe computer systems and also receives a subsidy for this from the government. DIVD confirms this after reporting on this from the NOS. He also worked at a cybersecurity company in Amsterdam, which could not be reached for a response. It concerns the main suspect (21) in the police investigation.
We are extremely shocked that we may have had a cybercriminal in our midst all this time
The news about the arrest, which was announced by the police on Thursday, hit DIVD hard. “We knew he had been apprehended, but only now learned of the possible extent of people’s private data that had been captured. We are very shocked by that,” a spokesman for DIVD responds. “We work with more than a hundred volunteers and then suddenly it turns out that you may have had a cybercriminal in your midst all this time.”
After the news about the arrest on January 23, the company immediately blocked the suspect’s account and investigated whether he used the information known to DIVD. “We have no indication that he misused our systems for hacking. The police have not investigated this case with us either.”
DIVD conducts research into vulnerabilities in software such as Windows. If there is a leak that hackers may be able to use, it will be investigated which agencies and companies use it. “We then warn those parties that there is a leak in the software and how they can solve it,” said the spokesperson. “All that good work is now being put in a bad light by this suspect.”
The main suspect, along with three other young men, are suspected of obtaining private data from hundreds of millions of people. Including possibly all Dutch people. This happened partly, the police suspect, with hacking companies. After the data was stolen, the hackers demanded a ransom from the company. In this way, the main suspect would have earned about 2.5 million euros in bitcoins in 2.5 years.
In addition to this main suspect, one of his co-suspects is said to have worked for an ICT company. ‘White hat by day, black hat by night’, the judiciary already described the two faces of the suspects. It is a reference to the wild west where the good cowboys wore a white hat and the bad boys a black one. “These men had a normal job during the day, for example at an ICT company where they worked on security. But in the meantime they also steal data and extort companies.”
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