UPDATE 1/17/2011: Bulgarian News Reports Dancho Danchev Institutionalized
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Bulgarian security researcher Dancho Danchev has been reported as missing since late summer 2010, according to an article in New Zealand based ZDNet.
The online publication has made multiple attempts to contact Danchev by phone, email, and through industry contacts, including representatives of the Bulgarian CERT.
ZDNet reports they received a tip from a Bulgarian source who indicated Danchev was in some sort of serious predicament which prevents him from making contact.
“Dancho’s alive but he’s in a lot of trouble," the source is quoted as saying.
Another source revealed they had received a letter in September of 2010 in which Danchev outlined concerns that he may be under surveillance from the Bulgarian government, and could face prosecution.
The letter was accompanied by photos purported to be from Danchev's apartment and show what may be evidence of monitoring equipment.
Danchev's letter reads as follows:
As I consider you as a trusted colleague, and someone who understands the big picture of cyber crime and cyber espionage, I’m attaching you photos of the “current situation in my bathroom”, courtesy of Bulgarian Law enforcement+intell services who’ve been building a case trying to damage my reputation, for 1.5 years due to my clear pro-Western views+the fact that a few months ago, the FBI Attache in Sofia, Bulgaria recommended me as an expert to Bulgarian CERT -> clearly you can see how they say “You’re Welcome”.
I’m sending you these not with the idea to see them published, but as an insurance in case things get ugly, knowing that a trusted third-party has access to these and can always distribute them to [redacted] mailing list members, and pretty much the entire industry, especially the press.
The LEO behind the whole operation: [ NAME REDACTED ]
I’m in a process of contacting journalists -> just in case.
I hope you’re the trusted industry contact that I think you are, and you’ll basically keep these somewhere safe. Thank you, and please use my PGP key.
ZDNet published this information in the hopes that someone in the security community may be able to help clear up the mystery surrounding Danchev's absence.
Dancho Danchev is is highly reputable malware researcher and blogger who has made significant contributions to the information security field.