Russia under fire
“Cybercrime is in any case strongly Eastern European oriented,” says John Fokker, who is researching digital attacks and the criminals behind them for security company McAfee. And the persecution could also be improved in other former Soviet countries.
However, it is mainly Russia that is now under attack. What doesn’t help is that, in addition to harboring criminal attackers, the country has been under fire for some time for hacks allegedly carried out by the government.
This is how Russia attempted the US elections to influence. Just last week, Russian government hackers allegedly attacked the Republican party have cracked, although the party denies that data was stolen.
The ransomware attacks by criminals are on top of that, and they are increasing in size. If parts of the critical infrastructure are attacked, it can even pose threats to national security, warned the NCTV recently.
Close your eyes
Russia is turning a blind eye to criminal attackers for several reasons, says Van der Meer van Clingendael. “Weakening society is a goal of Russia,” said Van der Meer. “Sowing disinformation and unrest, but also hurting business, is part of that.”
In addition, according to him, the Russian government also benefits directly from the attackers: “If criminals are arrested, they can choose: go to jail, or give the Kremlin a hand now and then. If they then attack on behalf of the Kremlin and they caught, the Kremlin can easily say: we don’t know anything.”
That is why, according to Groenewegen, it is often pointless to ask the Russian authorities for help if there are indications towards Russian criminals in a Dutch cybercrime case.
Van der Meer: “You can identify and track down the criminals, but nothing happens. They can just continue without any punishment.”
The Kremlin, meanwhile, denies everything. “According to the Russian government, these are criminal hackers who have nothing to do with the government,” said Iris de Graaf, correspondent in Russia for the NOS. “And so the Kremlin maintains that the hacking attacks are being used by the West to put Russia in a bad light.”