Prosecutors end investigation into young BKK ticket hacker

August 22, 2017

Budapest Mayor István Tarlós may have vastly overpaid for his ticket to ride.

Prosecutors have suspended the investigation of the 18-year-old ethical hacker who revealed serious security vulnerabilities in the Centre for Budapest Transport’s recently introduced electronic ticket system, reports inforadio.hu.

According to the Hungarian Civil Liberties Union (HCLU), which represents the hacker, the young man no longer stands accused of having committed a felony by purchasing tickets for less than their official price. The man immediately contacted the Centre for Budapest Transport (BKK) once he discovered that he could buy a ticket from BKK’s brand-spanking-new electronic ticket system for a mere fraction of its normal price. However, instead of thanking him for calling this flaw to their attention, BKK and T-Systems, which developed the technology together, jointly reported him to the police, prompting National Bureau of Investigations officers to visit the man in his home.  Before taking him into custody police reportedly searched his premises.

Both BKK and T-Systems denied allegations that the system had been rushed into operation without proper testing allegedly to impress guests of the FINA World Aquatic Championships in July. However, after it turned out that personal data of hundreds of users were open to abuse due to another security vulnerability, they publicly apologized.

With their current resolution, prosecutors have acknowledged that the young man’s actions were not criminal in nature as they did not pose any threat to the society. Despite this, prosecutors surprisingly concluded that his actions were legal, according to the HCLU.

“Currently police can raid someone’s apartment, even if they did not commit a crime but instead act in the interest of the society,” said Dalma Dojcsák, HCLU’s Political Freedom Rights project leader. “With this practice the state intimidates public applicants instead of supporting them.”