Source: Brian Stewart, CBC

(…) According to some watchers, many of Russia’s brilliant computer hackers were recruited directly for intelligence work from large organized crime families in St. Petersburg and Moscow to help them conduct spying activities. Unlike most criminal fraternities, Russian ones encouraged clever young wonks early on, so long as they produce results.

Today, these young hackers are particularly feared by European and American corporations, banks, science centres and militaries because of their ability to break through secret walls.

Ron Deibert, head of the Citizen Lab at the Munk School of Global Affairs at the University of Toronto, tracks computer abuse by governments and feels Russian espionage is quite distinct.

“The Russian cybercrime underworld is extraordinarily complex and very adept,” Deibert says. “What makes Russia distinctive is the exploitation of the criminal underground. The Putin regime is fairly described as a kleptocratic regime and there’s a toleration of criminal activities that are used for political purposes or private purposes … and that extends to the cyber-criminal underground.”

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