Russia to the Rescue!
I don't know about you, but it seems we've had a Russia obsession for more than a few years now. If Putin's goal was to live in the heads of our politicians, tormenting their dreams, it sure seems he has succeeded. Not a day goes by that they're not in the news cycle about something, and they're typically cast as a Marvel comics-type nation-state villain, plotting to bring down their evil nemesis, the US of A. So when Russia acts "out of narrative" and actually does something positive, we should take note. Well let's do that now.
Recently, the Russian government arrested several actors who they claim were behind the REvil strain of ransomware. Make no mistake, REvil has been one of the more successful variants of ransomware, having siphoned off hundreds of millions of dollars from their hapless victims. So when Russia took down 14 members of this cyber-gang, it made news in cyber circles. Apparently, the action was prompted by a request from the United States. So what are we to make of this? Is Russia changing it's stance on cyber-crime?
Not so fast. It was just a few years ago when Russian intelligence forces assisted Interpol in taking down one of the largest spam operators in the world, a Russian group operating on Russian soil. Putin's response? The senior government officials who assisted the international law enforcement efforts were thrown in jail. So what's changed?
The conjecture is this was an effort by Putin to ease tensions that have escalated over Ukraine in recent weeks. To conclude this is anything more than a symbolic gesture would be fool-hardy, however.
The reality is Russia has embraced cyber-crime both at the nation-state level and among their citizenry. Russia uses cyber-warfare aggressively against its neighbors, especially Ukraine.
Make no mistake, Russia is a world leader in the export of cyber-crime, and that's not going to change anytime soon. But if they tripped up the REvil ransomware, even if temporarily, we'll take the momentary pause.
Thank you for reading.