Estonian weekly: Prosecutors goofed cutting deal with hacker

Cyber exercise.
Cyber exercise. Source: Rene Suurkaev/ERR

The Office of the Prosecutor General settled the case of a cybercriminal who had stolen the photos of nearly 300,000 people from a Police and Border Guard Board (PPA) database with a compromise procedure, but left a point in the deal concluded during criminal proceedings that has left Estonian police in a tight spot, weekly Eesti Ekspress wrote Wednesday.

"Among other things, the deal provided that the police will return two desktop computers and an external hard drive to [convicted hacker] Artur Boiko," Eesti Ekspress (EE, link in Estonian) wrote about the ruling that entered into force last December 7.

"At some point they realized at law enforcement agencies that this was a big mistake," the paper continued. "The court ruling could be understood to mean that the hacker will get his computers back together with all of the stolen personal data and the program created to steal them."

The paper noted that it doesn't understand how such a mistake was made during the compromise procedure, and the Office of the Prosecutor General didn't explain it either.

As Ago Ambur, chief of the Cybercrime Bureau of the Central Criminal Police (Keskkriminaalpolitsei, KKP), stressed that under no circumstances can the computers used to commit these crimes and the stolen data be returned to Boiko, the defendant took the Prosecutor's Office all the way to the Supreme Court of Estonia.

Late last month, the Supreme Court ruled that in accordance with their deal, the police have to return Boiko's computers, however this obligation cannot compel police to break the law. Handing over the stolen ID photos would conflict with the protection of personal data, and thus the KKP must erase this personal data from the computers in question, EE wrote.

To comply with the top court's ruling, the police must now review each file that had been on the hacker's computers one by one and erase the forbidden files, but doing so by hand would take 34 weeks, which is why the PPA's IT specialists are now looking for a way to automate the process, the paper said.


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Editor: Aili Vahtla

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