An introduction to the Russian-language underground

An introduction to the Russian-language underground

The Russian cybercriminal underground is one of the most active cybercriminal communities in the world. A report from Recorded Future looking at the Russian and Chinese hacking communities reveals the forums used by Russian cybercriminals are well organized, with members highly focused on doing business: "Russian forums leave very little room for socializing or camaraderie. These sites are places of business, not bastions for community."

Following on from our previous features on the threat of the French-, Spanish-, and Chinese-language undergrounds, we talk to Dan Byrnes, Senior Intelligence Analyst at Recorded Future, about what CSOs need to know about the threat from Russian-language threat actors.


Can you explain how the Russian-language cybercriminal underground differs from other communities?

There is [a difference], but it's subjective. I draw a distinction between the more prestigious Russian criminal forums and the Tor marketplaces of any language. The Russian forums are focused on malware, fraud, and the necessary infrastructure these activities require. There is a high level of communication between members, as nearly all criminal operations require multiple people acting as a team either directly or indirectly. They're communal, but communal in a business sense. In the land of Tor marketplaces, the focus is on narcotics. There are also plenty of email and social media accounts for sale, and some resell malware purchased from on the Russian forums. But many of these Tor marketplaces are point-and-click vending-type sites, and human interaction is limited. They're much more like an evil online reseller, where the Russian forums are much more like an evil version of Reddit with better admins.

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Kate Hoy

Kate Hoy is Editor of IDG Connect

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