Russia, long known as a haven for hackers and spammers, is finally taking steps to crack down on cybercrime. Over the last several years, the Russian government has frustrated officials from other nations by allowing organized cybercrime gangs operating in the country to steal millions of dollars from companies throughout the United States and Europe. However, recent events prove that Russia is no longer turning a blind eye to the cybercrooks who once operated freely in the nation.
One organization, The Russian Association of Electronic Communications, is leading the charge in the fight against cybercrime in Russia. The organization believes that the Russian government’s tolerance of cybercriminal activities has damaged the nation’s international reputation. In order to help change this perception, the RAEC has laid out an ambitious program to help the nation fight illegal online activity. According to a recent article in The Register, the RAEC plans to “to shape Russian internet regulations, provide mediation in copyright and e-commerce disputes, promote internet security and help support the development of legitimate IT businesses in Russia.”
The final part of the RAEC’s program, developing a legitimate IT industry, is one of the key challenges in Russia’s battle against cybercrime. According to current estimates, 10,000 to 20,000 people work in the underground Russian economy by participating in a wide range of illegal activities, including selling scareware, spamming, and assisting in online banking fraud. Dmitry Zakharvo, RAEC’s Director of Communications, summed up the issue: “The problem at the moment is that we are not able to offer talented technology people jobs, so they get involved in illegal activity.”
In order to offer legitimate professions, the RAEC is supporting the establishment of a technopark for software developers near Moscow, a project that will hopefully create thousands of new jobs within the next five years. “The problem is economic,” said Zakharov. “We have to offer jobs. Those that remain will be pursued if they still want to act like criminals.”
While creating legitimate jobs is a long-term solution, cybercriminals currently operating in Russia need to be pursued and prosecuted. Recent events suggest that the Russian government is heading in the right direction in this regard as well. In March, The Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) arrested several members of a cybercrime ring who stole $9 million from the processing unit of the Royal Bank of Scotland. To read more about the arrests, click here.
New legislation will also help the nation crack down on cybercriminals. The Russian Coordination Center, which administers all registries for Russian domain names (.ru), recently began verifying the identity of all registrants. Those applying for a domain name must now provide a passport copy or legal registration papers for businesses. Monitoring the domain registries should reduce abuse by cybercrooks who previously used the unchecked domains for spamming or other illegal activities.
Russia still has long way to go in order to convince the rest of the world that it’s tough on cybercrime. Yet, these recent events show that the country is taking steps to prove that it is no longer a hub of illicit online activity.