Russian Cyber Crime’s Top Flight ‘Stole US$790m’


Cyber criminals are making hundreds of millions, it is claimed.

A 20-strong group of Russian cyber criminals have made $790m (£520m) over three years by emptying bank accounts around the world, it has been claimed.

Security firm Kaspersky said the gangs primarily target businesses and individuals in the US and western Europe, however people in former Soviet Union states have also lost cash.

Kaspersky investigation unit boss Ruslan Stoyanov said that the Russian criminal underground is thriving, with 1,000 new cyber gang recruits in the last three years.

He pointed out that the new sign-ups vastly outnumber those arrested – which he puts at around 160, based on official crime figures.

But Mr Stoyanov – who used to work for the Kremlin’s cyber crime unit – said that while thousands are involved in cyber crime there is a small group of 20 who represent the top flight of professional hacking.

This elite group of criminals is making hundreds of millions of dollars by running their crime operations with the sophistication of a legitimate business.

He said: “Cybercriminal system administrators configure management servers, buy abuse-resistant hosting for servers, ensure the availability of tools for anonymous connection to the servers (VPN) and resolve other technical challenges, including the interaction with remote system administrators hired to perform small tasks.”

He said staff were sometimes recruited using public advertisements in underprivileged areas like war-torn Ukraine.

Mr Stoyanov pointed out that his analysis of the size of Russia’s cybercrime problem could be conservative.

He said: “This estimate is based both on the analysis of public information about the arrests of people suspected of committing financial cybercrime in the period between 2012 and 2015 and on Kaspersky Lab’s own data.

“Of course, this figure only includes confirmed losses, the details of which were obtained by law enforcement authorities during the investigation. In reality, cybercriminals could have stolen a much larger amount.”

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