Dutch hacker stole GIS data from everyone in Austria – culprit caught in successful sting operation

Austria’s Gaisberg Transmitter, which transmits FM radio and TV – Photo: Hans, via Pixabay

According to Die Presse, a Dutch hacker was able to steal GIS data from nine million Austrian residents in 2020.

The data, which included name, date of birth and the address the person was registered as living at, was then offered for sale online.

With approximately 9 million people currently citizens or a legal resident of Austria, that means the hacker was able to steal the data of almost everyone in Austria.

The Austrian hack was apparently discovered by GIS in May, 2020, but it wasn’t until November, 2022 when the Dutch hacker was arrested.

It appears the hack was able to take place as a result of negligence, but not on the part of GIS.

Instead, GIS gave their database to what Die Presse is calling “a renowned Viennese IT company”, as they needed the database to be restructured.

It is believed an employee at the IT company may have used the data to run a test, but neglected to secure it correctly so that it could not be accessed from outside the company.

The GIS data hack was discovered when the Experten des Bundeskriminalamtes (BK) (in English Federal Criminal Police Office) discovered someone wit the pseudonym ‘DataBox’ in a dark net marketplace offering the Austrian data for sale.

In what was eventually a successful sting operation, authorities bought the data, which gave them the ability to learn more information about the person offering it for sale.

After a thorough international investigation involving authorities from several countries, a 25-year-old Dutch man was ultimately arrested for the data theft.

Once the man was arrested, Federal Criminal Police Office discovered he was not only in possession of stolen data belonging to Austrian citizens and residents, but also other databases belonging to several other countries, including China, the United Kingdom and the Netherlands.

For those who do not live in Austria, GIS (aka GIS Geb├╝hren Info Service GmbH) is the national organization that is responsible for billing and collecting the broadcast fee for TV and radio that millions in Austria pay.

It is an organization everyone living in Austria must either pay fees to, if they own a TV or radio, or must file a declaration with stating they do not own either.

About Michelle Topham

I'm a journalist, and the founder of Oh My Vienna. I have been living in Vienna since 2016 as an immigrant, because 'expat' is just a fancy word that means exactly that.