Inside 'Hackerville,' Romania's Infamous Cyber Crime Hub

Security firm Norton’s new documentary takes a personal look at criminal hackers.

Image: Norton/Youtube (Screengrab)

You've probably never heard of Râmnicu Vâlcea, a town of less than 100,000 people two hours outside of Bucharest, Romania, on the foothills of Transylvania. But the town has gained notoriety over the years for being a nest of cybercriminals.

Some have come to call it "Hackerville," or "Cybercrime Central," given how many criminal hackers live and thrive there. On Wednesday, security firm Norton came up with yet another nickname for Râmnicu Vâlcea, "The Most Dangerous Town on the Internet."

That's the title of Norton's new venture into video content production, a mini documentary about Râmnicu Vâlcea and the famous hackers that hail from there and the rest of the country, such as Marcel Lazar Lehel, better known as Guccifer and for revealing to the world George W. Bush's previously unknown and bizarre artistic talents. This and a series of other high-profile hacks got him a four-year prison sentence.

The documentary features in-person interview with Guccifer—inside the prison where he is being held—and two other notorious hackers: Iceman (aka Robert Butyka), who hacked NASA, and Razvan Manole Cernaianu (aka Tinkode), who breached the Pentagon and NASA as well, among others.

While the documentary offers a behind the scenes, personal look at notorious hackers, its dark colors and eerie music might play a little bit too much into certain hacker stereotypes. But that's not surprising when you remember it was made by a company that sells security products, and wants you to be worried about hackers. So take it with a grain of salt, even though, to a certain extent, the internet is insecure, and you should take some precautions to thwart hackers, some as simple as using strong passwords (your brain actually can remember them), or not clicking on links or attachments sent by people you don't know.

Regardless, if you care about hackers and are curious to know more Romanian cybercriminals, the documentary is certainly worth watching.

This story has been corrected. A previous version of this article said that this was Norton's first venture into video content production, but the security firm has previously produced another video about hackers, a fiction thriller called "Cybergeddon."