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The Strange Disappearance of Dancho Danchev 160

Posted by timothy
from the or-not-so-strange dept.
rudy_wayne writes "ZDNet is reporting that Zero Day blogger and malware researcher Dancho Danchev has gone missing since August of last year. Dancho, who was relentless in his pursuit of cyber-criminals, last blogged here on August 18. His personal blog has not been updated since September 11, 2010. 'At ZDNet, we made multiple attempts to contact him, to no avail. Telephone numbers are going to Bulgarian language voicemails and our attempts to reach him via a snail mail address also came up empty. Just recently, a trusted member of the malware research community reached out to us to say he had received a troubling letter from Dancho on September 9, 2010, about the threat of persecution in Bulgaria.'"
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The Strange Disappearance of Dancho Danchev

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  • by Anonymous Coward

    ... this really does sound like a case of paranoid schizophrenia. The business with the photo of the lighting transformer pretty much proves it. :(

    Frankly, he'd have been better off being clubbed by mobsters and stuffed into the trunk of a car. I hope they find him before he does serious harm to himself or anyone else.

    • Maybe I'm not spooky enough, but I see nothing sinister about series-connected downlights and a ballast.
    • ... this really does sound like a case of paranoid schizophrenia.

      Maybe it's the LSD the CIA are putting into this tap water supply finally kicking in.

    • Re: (Score:1, Flamebait)

      by DurendalMac (736637)
      Not exactly. It's eastern Europe. It's corrupt as hell and cybercrime is a big business. Who's to say that the authorities aren't being bribed to go after this guy? It could well be paranoid ranting, but this guy is in a pretty shitty country where the cops are far, far more corrupt than the ones in the western world.
      • Re:Unfortunately (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 14, 2011 @10:02PM (#34886256)

        Not exactly. It's eastern Europe. It's corrupt as hell and cybercrime is a big business. Who's to say that the authorities aren't being bribed to go after this guy? It could well be paranoid ranting, but this guy is in a pretty shitty country where the cops are far, far more corrupt than the ones in the western world.

        It's easy to tell scary tales for foreign countries, but I'm here in Bulgaria and I can tell you that it's actually a normal country. We do have a higher rate of corruption, that is insufficient to outright claim cops acting autonomously disappear people on a regular basis in here.

        Some things in Danchev's email don't compute for me. He says he's prosecuted for his clearly pro-western bias. Ever since the USSR collapse, this country has had a pro-western bias itself. We're in NATO and EU for crying out loud. The fixtures photos are unfortunately not a very clear message of what he intended. Surely if he wanted to show us bugs he'd take more specific photos.

        Either ZDNet has decided to withhold some of the information they have, which is understandable, or Danchev was under stress when sending these emails, which is very likely to be assumed. Unfortunately the reason for this stress may range as wildly as from a governmental hunt to possible mental issues.

        If he ever stepped on someone's interests, I doubt it'd be the government as a whole, more a specific organized group that was hurt by his work or has been "asking" persistently for his "help". Which doesn't match his description of the events.

        So we're left speculating or mocking the guy, or insulting his country, with a clue on what's going on. Sometimes, if you have nothing to say, it's best to say nothing.

        • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

          Sometimes, if you have nothing to say, it's best to say nothing.

          If you "work in media" you would go broke in an instant. Besides, "Slashdot Mystery Science Theatre" has a catchy ring to it.

        • you know too much and are obviously one of "them" pretending to be one of "us" to smooth this whole thing over... i will now hide in my tinfoil hat.
        • My brother spent two years in Bulgaria. He met a lot of good folks and had many good things to say about the place, but he wasn't shy about pointing out outright government corruption from top to bottom. Some states in eastern Europe faired better than others when the USSR collapsed, but organized crime is still pretty rampant even in the better-off states.
          • My brother spent two years in Bulgaria. He met a lot of good folks and had many good things to say about the place, but he wasn't shy about pointing out outright government corruption from top to bottom. Some states in eastern Europe faired better than others when the USSR collapsed, but organized crime is still pretty rampant even in the better-off states.

            Well, to be fair he did admit that they have a higher rate of corruption. And organized crime is pretty rampant here in the U.S., for that matter. Well, that's what our public officials tell us when asked about why our prisons are overflowing. Of course, a lot depends upon how you define organized crime.

            • by hedwards (940851)
              Depends on your definition of rampant, we do have a lot of organized crime in the US, but it's not anywhere near as bad as it is in Russia.
        • This is slashdot, they tell the same scary stories about he US, UK and recently even Sweden.
          • by Man On Pink Corner (1089867) on Saturday January 15, 2011 @01:52AM (#34887322)

            This is slashdot, they tell the same scary stories about he US, UK and recently even Sweden.

            Ah, yes, Sweden, where shoplifting is referred to as "rape of inventory," wire fraud is defined as "rape of database," armed robbers are charged with "rape of wallet," and jaywalking is known as "rape of traffic."

            • by JockTroll (996521) on Saturday January 15, 2011 @03:12AM (#34887624)
              And you can be arrested for being a dickhead unless you wear a condom as a hat.
        • Re:Unfortunately (Score:4, Interesting)

          by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 14, 2011 @11:44PM (#34886754)

          I am Bulgarian and I pretty much think he is a nut job. First of all I had a long history working with Bulgarian ISPs and Bulgarian authorities and I have never heard of him. His linkedin profile is outright ridiculous. What is shown on the pictures is a lamp transformer and bad wiring for in-cupboard bathroom spotlight lamps. Looking at his pictures I would say he has a crazy look. I read his self-proclaimed security researches and I find nothing interesting in them.

          The only possible explanation I have is that he tried to brag his work and abilities in some bar in front of people who actually understand these matters and they devastated him. Ralising this he just tried to put some story to get away semi decently, and then he found something better to do.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by buglista (1967502)
            I've met him - he's a nice guy and pretty with it. Other smart people I know value his opinions as well. I think your message says more about your insecurities and abilities than it does about Dancho to be honest. BTW, you cannot evaluate "crazy" by looking at still photos.
          • by suv4x4 (956391)

            Looking at his pictures I would say he has a crazy look

            Interesting diagnosis. Can you also heal illnesses over the phone or tell me my future based on my birth date?

        • Looks like somebody needs to check their local news.

          • by sznupi (719324)

            It's typically about small details. Usually pretty coherent, forming particular whole; but still, small details here and there.

      • Re:Unfortunately (Score:4, Insightful)

        by dziban303 (540095) <dziban303@NoSpaM.gmail.com> on Friday January 14, 2011 @10:37PM (#34886464) Homepage

        ...but this guy is in a pretty shitty country where the cops are far, far more corrupt than the ones in the western world.

        Clearly you've never visited the city of New Orleans or the state of Illinois.

      • I always had the understanding that at one time Bulgaria was responsible for much of the viruses and malware being written and distributed. If so that would be a good starting point for, for profit malware etc. (e.g. organized crime). Given a lot of the paranoia going on these days, I find it easy to believe organized crime in that country could afford to pay off some of the authorities to arrest the fellow on some sort of trumped up "cyber-security". I imagine they still have some old rooms used by Soviet
    • by Qzukk (229616)

      the photo of the lighting transformer pretty much proves it

      Just because you're paranoid doesn't mean they're not out to get you. The question is whether a poorly installed dimmable ballast just showed up one day. Bonus points if it's not attached to a dimmer switch.

    • ... this really does sound like a case of paranoid schizophrenia. The business with the photo of the lighting transformer pretty much proves it. :(

      Frankly, he'd have been better off being clubbed by mobsters and stuffed into the trunk of a car. I hope they find him before he does serious harm to himself or anyone else.

      Well it might not be. I recently came home from a hacker conference where we discussed the relative merits of using puts("Hello Word!!!\n"); against printf ("Hello World!!!\n"); and how both are open to attacks from malware juggernauts. Upon returning home I noticed THIS [naic.edu] installed on my roof. It's damn lucky I have a keen eye for subtle details or I could have been another victim of malware overlords bugging my house. These people have power beyond your understanding.

  • Hmm, maybe he is doing some Jason Bourne stuff. Either that or he got arrested and is unable to make any phone calls or make outside contact with anybody. Option 2 sounds more like what happened.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 14, 2011 @09:48PM (#34886188)

      It's Bulgaria -- it's *extremely* rare, almost unheard of, for the police to be able to keep anybody in jail for longer than 72 hours, especially for a non-violent crime accusation. I haven't seen anything in the Bulgarian news about this guy either -- and there would be, given that again, this is Bulgaria and you can't keep anything quiet. The fact that officials there are corrupt does not mean that everyone doesn't know who is corrupt in exactly what way...

  • by kiore (734594) on Friday January 14, 2011 @09:29PM (#34886096) Homepage Journal
    He's been researching cyber jihadists for 3 years.

    Those guys don't normally disappear their enemies, bombs are more their style.

    • The jihadists I am familiar with routinely kidnap people.

      Granted it's usually in the Middle East, but I'd imagine they kidnap individuals more often than they "blow them up."

      • The jihadists I am familiar with routinely kidnap people.

        Granted it's usually in the Middle East, but I'd imagine they kidnap individuals more often than they "blow them up."

        I count myself lucky not to be familiar with any jihadists.

        Of course, I feel the same way about anyone that is functionally insane, and for whom the only known treatment is summary execution.

  • by Seumas (6865) on Friday January 14, 2011 @09:36PM (#34886132)

    Everyone knows that disappearances only matter if the subject is an attractive, young, blond, female. Preferably from at least an upper middle class background.

  • and wires coming out of walls in his apartment"

    Not just yet another less-than-stellar electrical installation? What exactly is supposedly suspiciously spooky about them?

  • The government installed a lighting fixture! Those bastards! Its dimmable too! Clearly they want him to have mood lighting so he can seduce women in his bathroom, and mate with them. They clearly want an army of Danchev's under government control. He can't use a phone or a computer because the government enrolled him in dozens of online dating sites and posted his phone number in his profile. It all makes sense!

    • by Suki I (1546431)

      The government installed a lighting fixture! Those bastards! Its dimmable too! Clearly they want him to have mood lighting so he can seduce women in his bathroom, and mate with them. They clearly want an army of Danchev's under government control. He can't use a phone or a computer because the government enrolled him in dozens of online dating sites and posted his phone number in his profile. It all makes sense!

      More shoddy government work.

  • Cyber Jihad blogs YOU

  • by Anonymous Coward

    I would not at all blame him... Just think of this this way. He has piid off one heck of a lot of East European bot net (read Russian Mafia) guys. And the crooked internet providers that they support.
    What are his options? Go to the Bulgarian Police and hope they are not crooked?...not a good idea. Try to deal with the mob?...very unlikely. One of two things he is either dead already or in hiding. It is that simple. The governments of Eastern Europe are not in a financial position to fight organized crime an

    • by Sulphur (1548251)

      I would not at all blame him... Just think of this this way. He has piid off one heck of a lot of East European bot net (read Russian Mafia) guys. And the crooked internet providers that they support.
      What are his options? Go to the Bulgarian Police and hope they are not crooked?...not a good idea. Try to deal with the mob?...very unlikely. One of two things he is either dead already or in hiding. It is that simple. The governments of Eastern Europe are not in a financial position to fight organized crime and one place that organized crime is really into high tech is Eastern Europe. Tin foil hats be damned!

      Anonymous Coward

      To what kind of Hell are tin foil hats damned?

  • But who would bug... a bathroom?

    Who would prosecute a pro-western guy in a pro-western country [af.mil]?

    I fear as if his own email points to a rather trivial explanation, that afflicts some people in the field of exact sciences...

  • Did anyone check those apparently disassociated pictures for messages?

    As in: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Steganography [wikipedia.org]

    Well at least try, who knows what method (if any) he may have used.

  • Twitter (Score:5, Informative)

    by eulernet (1132389) on Friday January 14, 2011 @10:23PM (#34886382)

    He seems to have been active on his twitter until the 20th of October:
    http://twitter.com/danchodanchev [twitter.com]
    thus invalidating the September 9's menace hypothesis.

    He may simply have found a new job, and lost interest in updating his blog, or he may be paranoid and is hiding himself, by stopping all his online activities.

    Using Twitter is not really the best way to stay discreet and anonymous.

    • by fishexe (168879)

      He may simply have found a new job, and lost interest in updating his blog, or he may be paranoid and is hiding himself, by stopping all his online activities.

      A blogger lose interest in updating his own blog? Impossible!

  • Girlfriend (Score:1, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward

    He found one of those girlfriends that everybody talks about.

  • Maybe one of the cybercriminals he was chasing stole his identity and went into hiding
  • It's easy to forget how tenuous life can be in other countries, especially under his circumstances.
  • I think I'm also lost. It could be that I've never existed since I don't have a blog nor do I have a twitter account. I was last spotted making a post on /.

    *update*
    I have now been seen logging into my Steam account and playing CS:S.

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