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[ISN] Why are Russians excellent cybercriminals?
By Mark Galeotti
siloviks and scoundrels
The Moscow Times
Last month, the US Office of the National Counterintelligence Executive
identified two countries as most eagerly trying to steal American
secrets through cyberspace. This month, the FBIâs âOperation Ghost
Click,â the investigation of a $14 million cybercrime case, led to six
arrests and a hunt for a seventh. A few days later, it was revealed that
hackers had taken over and sabotaged a water pumping facility in
Illinois. Next month sees the trial of the so-called âking of spam,â
charged with being responsible for perhaps 10 billion unwanted and often
hoax email messages every day.
What do all these stories have in common? The US report identified
Russia and China as the guilty parties; of the seven hackers involved in
âGhost Click,â one is a Russian citizen, the other six ethnic Russian
Estonians; the Illinois hack was traced to servers in Russia; and âking
of spamâ Oleg Nikolayenko comes from Vidnoye, just outside Moscow.
Why does every hacking and cyberscam story -- real or fictional -- seem
to have a Russia connection?
In part, it is prejudice and laziness. The stereotype of the Russian
hacker has become such a common media trope that it gets recycled again
and again. It also offers a handy update for those looking for new ways
to perpetuate the âRussian threat.â
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