back to article Russia to convicted criminal hackers: 'Work with us or jail?'

Russia is reportedly letting convicted crackers take a seat in its offensive operations units, as an alternative to doing time. The effort, said to have started in 2013, saw at least one legitimate security professional flee Russia to seek asylum in Finland after he allegedly refused to help operate a distributed denial of …

  1. Brian Miller

    Spammer and physicist?

    So this is what happens when a physicist goes bad. And he still has enough personal conscience to choose a penal colony rather than be a tool of the state? Amazing.

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Andrei Sakharov

        Before you cast your stones at Андрей Дмитриевич Сахаров, I really urge you to read his memoirs (if you read Russian, the two-volume set is readily accessible online, e. g. http://www.ihst.ru/projects/sohist/memory/sakhmem/content.htm; if not, any good library can get you an English translation).

        This was a very remarkable man, who always did what he believed was best for his country and his people, and was ready to accept the personal consequences of his actions - both when he developed Soviet thermonuclear devices, and when he stood up against his creations and against the policies of the corrupt Soviet leadership. He also was a complex, nuanced, and sometimes tragic person, who could not be summarized by short paragraph which would suffice for most of us.

        One thing he never did was to go "bad".

        The world might have been a much better place if there were more people like him around.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Andrei Sakharov

          As far as one remembers, Andrey Dmitrievich has been a nominee for the one-to-take-part in "destroying" the Soviet Union. Pardon me for being probably incorrect.

  2. Voland's right hand Silver badge
    Devil

    so far not reported

    So far not reported != not happening elsewhere.

    1. seven of five Silver badge

      Re: so far not reported

      I would be pretty disappointed if "our" services would not do the same. Given how the US siphoned off the German (not only) rocket engineers after WW2, this is hardly a new idea.

      1. Nick Kew

        Re: so far not reported

        Not merely is it nothing new, we have a regular phrase Poacher turned gamekeeper. And a long tradition of applying it in this very field.

        1. Lotaresco Silver badge

          Re: so far not reported

          "we have a regular phrase Poacher turned gamekeeper. And a long tradition of applying it in this very field."

          I beg to differ. Firstly the so-called poachers have low skills. Not just the fact that they were caught, but their general approach is the equivalent of smashing a car window to grab a pound coin from the centre console. Secondly they aren't good people to use. Not only can they not contribute much but they tend to be massively over-confident, loose-lipped and unlikely to be able to pass even basic security clearance checks. Yes, like "Curador" they think they are god's gift to hacking, but there's no evidence to support their self-assessment.

          There are schemes in many countries to develop "cyber-offensive" capabilities. These tend to focus on selection of appropriate talent, a detailed knowledge of networking, operating systems and applications will get one further here than a quick and dirty hack. The selected candidates are then in for the "cyber" equivalent of boot camp. That way a government can turn out what it needs, knowledgeable specialists who are appropriately loyal to the state.

          Poacher turned gamekeeper only works if the poacher doesn't see any profit in being a gamekeeper who poaches on the side and uses his privileged access to take the best game.

          1. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

            Poacher turned gamekeeper

            I agree,

            Bruce Sterling's book "The Hacker Crackdown" looked at many early cases and concluded that its a bit of a myth that you'll land a job with whoever caught you.

          2. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

            A retort ..... for reporting further afield

            There are schemes in many countries to develop "cyber-offensive" capabilities. These tend to focus on selection of appropriate talent, a detailed knowledge of networking, operating systems and applications will get one further here than a quick and dirty hack. The selected candidates are then in for the "cyber" equivalent of boot camp. That way a government can turn out what it needs, knowledgeable specialists who are appropriately loyal to the state. …. Lotaresco

            Howdy, Lotaresco,

            That appraisal of the cyber situation is so wrong in so many ways. It is though an exceedingly common default position in virtually all government societies by reason of the lack of necessary future intelligence in-house and their need to not be outed as unfit for Greater IntelAIgent Game purpose because of the great screw they be enjoying in status quo arrangements. They be as turkeys not wanting to vote for Xmas.

            In the fields of expertise and expert tease we are alluding to here in this thread, it is appropriate talent which selects suitable businesses and/or governments/government agencies, so that chosen states/leading state actors can simply avail themselves, and learn should they be ready, willing and able to enable, of that which is needed.

            Putting the cart before the horse leaves one floundering as a lost soul in the Games presented today which play in the Advanced IntelAIgent Fields and Virtual Terrain Team Operations of Tomorrow.

            1. sniperpaddy

              Re: A retort ..... for reporting further afield

              Did amanfrommars say NO ??

          3. tr1ck5t3r

            Re: so far not reported

            I know of some people convicted of crimes who are now working for the UK Govt. The most obvious and blatant example are Parliamentary whips. The secret services pass on the "indiscretions" to the whips to use when necessary as blackmail against MP's who dont toe the line and you thought they worked for the public? The Secret Services also like leaking stuff about celebrities to the media, in fact many journo's are just the eyes and ears on the ground for the secret services under the guise of journalistic licence when working abroad and its something all Govt's use which is why Journo's tend to be untouchable in local disputes, if you were a local insurgent, I'd target the journo's to cut of the intelligence. Its surprising what the media dont discuss or report and thus you dont know about. However, the News for many is just a soap opera for serious people, just like the BBC's One show is Blue Peter for adults. The Register is the IT equivalent of Have I Got New For You for the UK IT industry!

            1. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

              Re: so far not reported

              The Register is the IT equivalent of Have I Got New For You for the UK IT industry! ...... tr1ck5t3r

              11/10 for that observation, sir/madam

              And Frank Gardner may not disagree with you re. the other possibility and therefore most likely probability

              What do you think of the possibility that El Reg is considerably more than it seems or would ever admit to, either publicly or privately?

  3. BarryUK

    Doesn't seem like a great idea - by definition the recruitment pool consists entirely of hackers who got caught.

    1. Martin Summers Silver badge

      Which is where then working for a state actor you develop those skills and learn not to. At the very least you no longer have to worry about being caught.

    2. phuzz Silver badge
      Big Brother

      The state knows it can trust you if they have the implied threat of prison to hold over your head all the time.

      I assume the Russian government is like all the other government departments I've seen, in that they would prefer someone who is average and controllable over someone who is brilliant but unpredictable.

    3. noboard

      But they must be good

      According to Obama, they managed to 'hack' the US election without the NSA finding out about it. They must be the best of the best, otherwise it means they didn't do anything bad and people are just spouting bullshit, or the NSA have all this monitoring power, but can't do anything with it. Surely the last two can't be true can they?

      1. Potemkine Silver badge

        Re: But they must be good

        Monitoring the others doesn't mean to you have the ability not to be monitored yourself.

        Also 'hacking' elections does not mean dealing with voting machines, it was sufficient enough to throw 'sensational' information (true or not) to websites like Wikileaks, DCLeaks. Swinging just 1 or 2% of votes was enough to make the Unpresidented President.

        The role of the FBI (an agency composed of mostly white men known for their hostility towards Clinton) in the week before the election is also puzzling.

  4. WraithCadmus

    You see comrade...

    There is no I in team, but there can be a U in gulag.

    1. boatsman

      Re: You see comrade... there is a U in gUlag and in Usa

      nuff said... :-)

  5. W Donelson

    The GOP thanks Russia and the rogue FBI groups for assisting them to Absolute Power.

    But now, the GOP wants the Power only for itself, and must kick Russia out to complete the coup d'etat.

    This is the nature of POWER.

    The investigations found that Russia meddled, and cyber-war will result.

    Look for a Trump impeachment early, followed by a Pence presidency and the end of democracy.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Its quite simple.

      a. agency X gains access to personal/political secrets of both major parties.

      b. as a Democrat president would be hamstrung by Republican control of congress, publicise information likely to support Republican candidate

      c. use relevant information privately to influence single-party government

    2. AbeSapian

      Siberian President

      I don't believe it is going to be the case that Russia will be kicked to the curb. For one thing Trump has too many assets in Russia and is subject to economic blackmail as he is in many countries.

      No, Russia has very effectively installed a puppet in the White House. On January 20th, the U.S. will be demoted from superpower to Russian satellite state.

      #nyetmypresident

  6. lukewarmdog

    My money's on Senator Quid, he's worth 100 Pence.

  7. Pen-y-gors Silver badge

    How long would it take...

    for someone with a decent pair of bolt cutters to wander along the Russian border and cut Russia off from t'Interwebs? It would make the world a much nicer place.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: How long would it take...

      The same might be said about China, Israel or the US.

      Oh, that is not funny anymore? Sorry.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: How long would it take...

      Hell no, its one of my favourite endpoints for tunnels :D

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: How long would it take...

        The Russian tracker sites is a real bounty, besides.

    3. veti Silver badge

      Re: How long would it take...

      Russia's land border runs to more than 20,000 km, so quite a while. It would also involve strolling around some pretty dangerous places.

      And once you've done that, you can swim through half the Arctic Ocean and the Bering Strait.

      Send us a postcard, won't you?

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