Why Won't Russia Bust Its Hackers?

In November, 2009, US authorities identified BadB, one of the internet's most ingenious financial criminals, as 27-year-old Moscow resident Vladislav Horohorin. He was recently arrested in France. But why did Russian authorities let him operate freely in the meantime?

The New York Times sketches out a few popular theories among security experts as to why, generally, Russia has been lax with its cyber-policing.

1. Miscommunication: In Horohorin's case, it's possible that Russian police never got our memo:

Olga K. Shklyarova, spokeswoman for the Russian bureau of Interpol, said no American law enforcement agency had requested Mr. Horohorin's arrest in her country. "We never received such a request," she said by telephone.

If we had intended to let them know that this guy was one of the world's most prolific cyber criminals and somehow the message got lost in translation, that's worrisome for a whole different host of reasons.

2. Indifference: Security experts claim that 7 of the top 10 spammers in the world can be found in nations that were formerly part of the Soviet Union, but according to Dmitri Zakharov, a lobbyist for Russian internet businesses, such natinos are rarely the target of those spammers:

Online fraud is not a high priority for the Russian police, Mr. Zakharov said, because most of it is aimed at computer users in Europe or the United States. "This is a main reason why spammers are not arrested," he said.

3. Politics: In broad strokes: US sees cybercrime as as a matter for law enforcement. Russia has pushed for international treaties that would entrust cybersecurity regulation with military and espionage agencies. Vladimir Sokolov, deputy director of Russian research group Institute of Information Security, says that Russia and the United States "were still at odds on basic issues of computer security", though he thinks that we're increasingly seeing eye to eye.

4. Conspiracy: Some computer security researchers suggest that Russia's reluctance to prosecute cyber-criminals is based on some sort of mutual agreement with those very individuals. The idea is that

criminal spamming gangs have been co-opted by the intelligence agencies in Russia, which provide cover for their activities in exchange for the criminals' expertise or for allowing their networks of virus-infected computers to be used for political purposes - to crash dissident Web sites, perhaps.

The New York Times cites Russian hackers' attack on computer systems in Georgia during Russia's war with that country in 2008 as one such possible example of cooperation, though Russian authorities have said they had nothing to do with the attacks.

While that last possibility is certainly the juiciest, it's also the unlikeliest. And while US authorities claim they knew BadB's identity late last year, there's really no way of knowing what went on behind the scenes. The Times mentions an incident in 2002 in which the F.B.I. apprehended a Russian cybercriminal by luring him into US under the pretence of a job offer - before even asking the Russian authorities for help.

So I'd imagine Horohorin's delayed arrest can more realistically be attributed to some discrepancy in the two nations' priorities, or perhaps to a miscommunication of those priorities. In any event, it's probably something we should all get sorted out sooner than later. [NYT]


Comments

    Oh how we love the sound of "bad Russians"!
    But the facts...
    The following is from Wiki for Spam:

    "A 2009 Cisco Systems report lists the origin of spam by country as follows:[10]
    (trillions of spam messages per year)
    1. Brazil: 7.7;
    2. USA: 6.6;
    3. India: 3.6;
    4. South Korea: 3.1;
    5. Turkey: 2.6;
    6. Vietnam: 2.5;
    7. China: 2.4;
    8. Poland: 2.4;
    9. Russia: 2.3;
    10. Argentina: 1.5."
    Russia for its size could hardly made top 10.
    Another "Russian mafia" myth bubble?

      Oh how we love the "copy & paste".
      But the facts..
      The following is from Wiki for Botnet Spammers
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Botnet

      "in recent times the volumes of spam originating from a single compromised host have dropped in order to thwart anti-spam detection algorithms – a larger number of compromised hosts send a smaller amount of messages in order to evade detection by anti-spam techniques."

      Russia is low probably because Horohorin doesn't shit where he eats.

      Your list simply states which country has the most compromised hosts.

      As for me, back to browsing for my mail order bride from RussianMafia.com

        ...report lists the origin of spam by country...
        ORIGIN, Jack
        Switch to Glenn Beck now, man, give your hand some rest..

        The spam ORIGINATES from the computers in those countries, but they can all be controlled remotely. It's called a botnet for a reason. Before insulting someone else, actually read what they're saying.

    Maybe...
    But who installed those botnets?
    My point was/is that blaming Russians is just too conveniently falls along the lines of right-wing propaganda machine. OP is just beating a dead horse before the applauding audience.
    What, there are no villains in US or any other Stan?
    Anyway, who made Stuxnet? Have they traced it yet? Could by guy next door.

      The article states "In November, 2009, US authorities identified BadB, one of the internet’s most ingenious financial criminal".

      Sure there has been lots others from around the world, a few originating from the US, but those on home turf are quickly dealt with.

      The blog is simply exploring the ideas of why the Russians did not immediately respond to the US demands and have the guy arrested.

      As for Russian Mafia, the only two mentions of Mafia on this page is "Another “Russian mafia” myth bubble?" and "mail order bride from RussianMafia.com".

      You obviously forgot about Todd Moeller and Adam Vitale of New Jersey who was busted and sued by AOL for spamming back in 05; was obviously not Russian.

      http://www.justice.gov/criminal/cybercrime/moellerSent.pdf
      and http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSIndia-30304820071102

      I think I got trolled~

      But gotta relieve my RSI, cheers Alex.

        "But who installed those botnets?"

        "Security experts claim that 7 of the top 10 spammers in the world can be found in nations that were formerly part of the Soviet Union"

        Um those guys?

        The ones in hard to reach places like former Soviet Union countries (as the article states).

        The ones caught in the US/UK or other Nato type countries are usually immediately arrested.

        Don't see any propaganda or witch hunting.

        Although it is hard to believe that China doesn't have anything to do with any of this.

    IMO, media hype, racist hysteria.
    Russian hacker just sounds much more menacing that say Finnish hacker.
    BBB effect.

Join the discussion!

Trending Stories Right Now