Inside the Russian Cyber-Underground

Inside the Russian Cyber-Underground
Inside the Russian Cyber-Underground 

By Brian Prince

When people think of cyber-crime, the typical image being pushed today 
is that of highly organized criminal operations. New research, however, 
suggests the underbelly of cyber-space may be less mafia-like than some 

In an effort to improve the level of understanding of today's black 
hats, security researchers Fyodor Yarochkin and "The Grugq" have spent 
several months looking at Russian hacker forums.

"It is an ongoing project that we started about 18 months ago," Grugq 
told eWEEK. "Originally it started when Fyodor investigated some service 
offerings from Russian hacker forums for a specific project that I was 
working on. It turned out to be extremely interesting and amusing, so we 
discussed doing more long-term monitoring on the forums. It grew from 
there into what is now a continuous monitoring program."

Their research was presented last month at the Hack in the Box 2010 
conference in Amsterdam. What the two found was that the image of a 
highly organized cyber-underworld run by hardcore criminals is not the 
order of the day. Instead, the dozen or so hacker forums they analyzed 
illustrated that many of the users are "geeks, not gangsters," the 
researchers said.

"Basically, from what we've seen on the forums much of what goes on with 
the sales of services is much more petty criminal activity, or crimes of 
opportunity," Grugq said. "Often poor students who like to hack for fun 
will sell access to a server they've owned. Many don't even realize that 
this is an illegal activity. This sale will be for $20 or $30, which is 
a lot of money for a poor student in Russia, but for a hardened criminal 
mastermind bent on destroying Western civilization -- not so much."


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