back to article With a straight face, Putin agrees to do something about ransomware coming out of Russia, apparently

Late last week, President Biden said he brought up the epidemic of ransomware hitting American businesses in a phone call with his Russian counterpart, and hinted the United States may start hitting back. Biden said he and Vladimir Putin not only discussed the matter, their two countries will apparently try to coordinate some …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Maybe Putin will simply move his malware programmers to another country, note the incidents in Haiti and Cuba ... now the Americans have quit Afghanistan then maybe the Russians are fiddling with America a little more "locally" again. The Yanks would be running around shouting again if the ransomware appeared to be coming from Cuba and Venezuela instead of Russia and North Korea.

    1. elsergiovolador Silver badge

      I think they tried in Venezuela, but the requested ransom kept overflowing the int64 and that wouldn't even pay for free fuel to run power generators.

    2. The Man Who Fell To Earth Silver badge
      Black Helicopters

      A cut

      "Putin agrees to do something about ransomware coming out of Russia"

      He'll take a cut, like he does of eveything else.

  2. elsergiovolador Silver badge

    Intelligence

    Послушайте, я русский, потому что написал что-то по-русски.

    What if there are multiple countries speaking the same language? Plot thickens.

    1. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Re: Intelligence

      Which country out of the not-so-extensive list would you pick?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Intelligence or Humour?

        List of countries and territories where Russian is an official language

        A list doesn't for example include the Ukraine where most of the population speaks Russian but it is not the 'official language'? Bulgaria? Serbia etc.? Or also a host of countries that have Russian speakers/writers but are not necessarily Russian like in the 'stans and other ex-Soviet states and that's even before anyone points out migration, so just about everywhere? It's as if Edward Snowden's revelations about MARBLE and other obfuscation tools never existed....

        1. Dan 55 Silver badge

          Re: Intelligence or Humour?

          Seems you didn't click and read the article.

      2. elsergiovolador Silver badge

        Re: Intelligence

        I tried to point that just because the software has some metadata in Cyrillic script or the source comes from a certain country's IP address, it does not mean it comes from that country.

  3. sanmigueelbeer Silver badge

    we set up a committee

    And this is why this "cooperation" has not, yet, materialize. A committee.

    1. slimshady76

      It is said Perón took this phrase from Napoleon, who took it himself from Joan D'Arc: "If you want something to stop working, just form a committee". I find it pretty fitting here.

    2. Ken G

      a JOINT committee

      1. DJV Silver badge

        Re: a JOINT committee

        ... who won't even be able to decide on exactly which joints to smoke...

      2. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

        Re a JOINT committee @Ken G

        If you bet on that being an AWEsome affair, Ken G, would you be quids in or would the UKGBNI MoD fail miserably again to grasp the lifelines that the private and/or pirate sectors can throw them to defend and save the public sector from the vast catalogues of mistakes and self-serving abominations its elite executive office servants afford themselves to try to defeat disruptive competition and targeting opposition alike.

        Such would be a monumental failing starting right at the top of the Joint Chiefs of Staff percolating its bile right down through the ranks infecting and effecting everyone donning and servering and servicing military/paramilitary uniforms, for it is not as if they are not already some time ago made clearly enough aware of the predicament which haunts and taunts them, news of which even the Register and its commentards know, for its shenanigans are not yet classified COSMIC TS/SCI ......... AWEsome AIdDevelopments for Heavenly Palaces*

        One does have to wonder at what they are playing at whenever everything around them turns so oft to nothing better than just so much useless dust as they abandon operation after operation with no gainful return and laudable adoration.

        Is it the case that they are just not so very bright and are stuck into serving an established traditional rut following despicable leaders rather than leading with formidable followers?

  4. martinusher Silver badge

    Its just criminal activity.

    Russia's well known for having not terribly well paid but excellent programmers so its possible that its a source of malware. Its not a given, though, especially as this kind of ransomware is malware-as-a-service, its a bad payload packaged for distribution by clients using other tools to gain entry to target systems - a business, in fact. Its one we'd all like to see taken down but like the Indian call center it just keeps on going because our everyday technologies tacitly encourage it -- we're reluctant to change our ways because it might interfere with the way we do things (and that's just too much effort).

    So its easier to just make noises about "Putin" and do nothing. Putin has actually called our bluff by stating that the Russian government has received no requests for help in tracking malware operators. Its likely that they're not in Russia, anyway, but its a lot easier to just mouth Cold War type comments than get off our collective backsides and actually do something.

    1. DS999 Silver badge

      Re: Its just criminal activity.

      Why is it "likely" they're not in Russia? I guess you're one of those who assume because US intelligence agencies have lied in the past, that EVERYTHING they say should be assumed to be a lie? I guess the known fact that the ransomware code deliberately avoids infecting Russian language computers is just a misdirection, part of an evil Deep State plot to make poor Vlad look bad so we put the blame on him instead of China, or Israel, or wherever you want to point the finger at?

      1. iron Silver badge

        Re: Its just criminal activity.

        If I were looking to write malware in the UK I would ensure the build machine was set to Chinese, Korean or Russian language, include some Google translated comments in the same langage and write it so it doesn't infect computers using the same language.

        I'd also ensure my C&C servers were hosted in China / Russia / NK or somewhere friendly to those countries.

        AV vendors, TLAs, etc would then identify me as a Chinese / Russian / North Korean hacker and blame them rather than the UK.

        It's pretty obvious spycraft imo.

  5. 418 I'm a teapot
    WTF?

    Of course he'll do something...

    He'll give his hackers a salary bump.

  6. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

    Meanwhile, after a deeper delving dive into something somewhere else ......

    Biden said he and Vladimir Putin not only discussed the matter, their two countries are apparently going to try to coordinate some action to tackle the waves of extortionware infections, which seem to be mainly orchestrated by miscreants in Russia and typically avoid compromising computers configured to use the Russian language.

    IT management software made by Kaseya was lately exploited to install REvil ransomware on as many as 1,500 businesses. The crew behind that software nasty is said to avoid targeting Russian organizations.

    That suggests the mother tongue of the programmers is not Russian. If they use by default American English/English American to exploit opportunities and vulnerabilities what does that rather more reveal likely their virtually remote home base?

    Wild Wacky Westerners attacking systems and blaming Jolly Roger Johnny Rotten Foreigners to try and avoid all responsibility and any accountability has been the whole essence and raison d'être of the Great Game since forever it was imagined crazy fun to play. Certainly their evident arrogance in thinking that nothing is impossible and the West can lead the ignorant East to a place of their choosing with a litany of alien interventions does not bode well for any fake and feeble denials of their being instrumental in such operational shenanigans to discredit surprisingly able misunderestimated opposition and wonderfully solvent competition.

    You though might not see things that way today although one has to agree it is perfectly possible and therefore more likely probably true than not ‽ .

    J'accuse. I Kid U Not.

    And a little something for that joint committee meeting on the 16th to ponder on cooperating against/with ‽ . Politicians and diplomats and heads of state etc etc do love their little confabs, don't they, when/where they can fabricate all manner of confidences for media presentation to universal audiences. Three cheers for the media ... Hip Hip Hooray, Hip Hip Hooray, Hip Hip Hooray ...... where would we all be without you.

  7. Potemkine! Silver badge

    The fear of retaliation is the only thing that will deter Russia (like anyone else). It's nothing new, it's an old game, and for this cyberspace follows the same rules.

    The ones claiming Russia is innocent are delusional. When it walks like a duck and it talks like a duck and it sounds like a duck, it's not a pig.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      The ones claiming Russia is innocent are delusional.

      No one is claiming that. Straw(o)man. Some point out that there are other possible vectors and actors. That's all.

      The ones claiming it is always Russia are delusional and emotional.

      See what I did there?

  8. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

    Something to remember whenever nothing is as it ever seems with quantum at play on fields of dreams

    The ones claiming Russia is innocent are delusional. When it walks like a duck and it talks like a duck and it sounds like a duck, it's not a pig. .... Potemkine!

    That's as well as may be, ... however, ..... it could be a drake, which is certainly different.

    The problem is, and you can imagine it yourself if you put yourself in their position, what do you expect to happen if you poke an innocent bear with a prick from a sharpened blunt stick?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Something to remember.. blah blah..

      "innocent bear" my bottom lip .. 95% of the highly professional money laundering frauds I investigated in the noughties had Russian fingerprints all over them, but the damning fact was where the Western Union/Moneygram money trails I managed to follow ended up - St. Petersburg..

      How do you think Russia manages to afford its huge military programme on its somewhat less than impressive declared GDP? Look at Russia's position in the corruption perception index on transparency.org - 129/180 - ITRO Mali, Malawi et al & not that far off Nigeria - says it all, really..

      The digital age has afforded great opportunites to criminal inclined states that are more than capable of exploiting them without compunction.

      I have a great regard for the Russian people - throughout history they have always deserved better.leadership than they have ever had and nowadays is no exception.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Something to remember.. blah blah..

        Then you'd also know that transnational and global crime groups don't care about race or borders, but profit and its much easier with the internet. As for Russia in the 1990s, look up Russia money plane.

    2. IGotOut Silver badge

      Anyone else noticed that manfrommars' posts are 95% coherent on this topic (but still make no sense) ?

      I guess Mars is a place in Russia.

  9. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    "mine cryptocurrency on smartphones"

    I am aware that smartphones a quite powerful these days - for their form factor.

    But it pays to know that entire racks of powerful machines are used in farms to mine funny monies ; a smartphone, as powerful as it may be, cannot hold a candle to a Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080.

    So a mobile app to mine stupid money is about as useful as a tricycle in a Formula 1 competition. You'll get there one day, years after everyone else has forgotten you even exist.

    But of course, the article used the right word when it said "marks". Yup, one born every minute.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It's Russia

    https://www.bankinfosecurity.com/blogs/theres-clear-line-from-revil-ransomware-to-russia-p-3065

  11. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

    MRDA ..... but one cannot plausibly deny its veracity for surely such then is delusional.

    On a crazy hunt for the big bad wolf, there are more than just red herrings to negotiate and pretend were never ever there ..... Cyber-warfare has never posed a greater threat to the world.

    What say y'all to those tales shared there? Fake news or far too true to be false and misleading? Be honest now.

    1. bobbear

      Re: MRDA ..... but one cannot plausibly deny its veracity for surely such then is delusional.

      I pick the first option, Ivan..

      I don't think quoting the Kremlin's state sponsored mouthpiece is going to get you very far.

      As Putin himself might say: "You say we make cyber war against the West - is all lies! You say Russians working from so-called 'troll factory' in St.Petersburg post lies and propaganda in your news media - is all lies! The building you say is "troll factory" is civilian factory making baby milk for beautiful rosy cheeked Russian babies in their mother's arms and Russians are devoted to make sure that internet is safe and used only for honest purpose and never for spying and never used by money laundering criminals, that is why we never give up Russian citizen to West for foreign trumped up charges as always is all lies!"

      I remember in 2019 Ofcom fined RT £200,000 for seven breaches of impartiality rules over its reporting of the Salisbury poisonings and the Syrian conflict. RT’s journalistic reputation was then pretty well trashed by an interview with the suspected poisoners, who claimed to be members of the "fitness industry" on a tourist visit to Salisbury Cathedral..

      1. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

        Re: MRDA ..... but one cannot plausibly deny its veracity for surely such then is delusional.

        I pick the first option, Ivan.. ...bobbear

        So, a bold admission that, bobbear, ...... to be a fan of fake news. An admirable honesty indeed, although it is certainly not admirable in deed given the crazy problems such seeds and feeds need in order to grow its perverse and corrupt and subversive database/alternate virtual realities.

        It's just like one of those nasty little mutating coronaviruses which so easily can lay waste to progress made wherever it surfaces to be be universally presented and spread.

        Is a vaccine for such possible or is it something one has to live with and suffer from?

  12. Cynic_999 Silver badge

    Huh?

    ISTM that the malware being discussed is being sent by Russian criminals rather than having anything to do with the Russian government. Threatening to commit similar criminal acts against innocent people in Russia unless the Russians stop those criminals seems a rather strange response. A bit like Wales complaining that English armed robbers are holding up banks in Cardiff, and threatening to rob banks in London unless the English police catch them.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Huh?

      Cynic_999,

      You are not cynical enough !!!

      Major criminality of this scale ONLY happens with the russian states collusion.

      Putin is happy for the chaos and confusion it causes to the west BUT would be very unhappy if it impacted russian industy/business, hence the russian language checks in the malware etc.

      If the russian state is effectively aiding the scammers etc then the only option is the hit back at the state.

      Re: the 'innocent people of russia' comment ...... don't forget the innocent people in the west who are impacted by the ransomware scams. Collateral damage happens everywhere and some pushback from the russian people would 'encourage' Putin to take some action, rather than smile and ignore the problem as it does not impact russia itself.

      If you do not think russia are involved at some level then you need to change your name to Gullible_999 !!! :)

      1. Cynic_999 Silver badge

        Re: Huh?

        A huge number of viruses and online scams originate in the USA. Does this mean that the US government must be aiding the scammers?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Huh?

          Cynic_999,

          Have you noticed the 'sudden' disappearence of the 'REvil group' after Biden told Putin that if he did not tackle the 'Ransomware issue' the US of A would !!!

          Pure coincidence perhaps .... !!!

          More like a token effort to rein back the Ransomware groups ..... for now, to avoid full scale cyber-warfare between the US of A and Russia/Russian-backed groups. !!!

          You really do need to do the name change as advised !!! :)

  13. adam 40 Bronze badge

    да конечно нет

    Reminds me - downloading Russian language pack now, to ward off malware attacks.

  14. Social Ambulator

    And on the iPhone?

    I, for one, am enraged that Apple’s walled-garden App Store stopped me losing money on fake bitcoin mining apps. Don’t they realize that there is a fundamental human right to be ripped off by criminals?

    1. Cynic_999 Silver badge

      Re: And on the iPhone?

      What you say might sound stupid, but there is indeed the bigger question of how many restrictions and limits to our freedom it is reasonable to accept "for our own good".

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Do something...

    ...of course he's going to do something.

    Track them down and get a percentage.

  16. A random security guy Bronze badge

    Ras-Putin (lighter note)

    Was listening to a band called BoneyM. Youtube has a video on it. Putin's downfall will be at the hands of his own people. Dictatorship has no exit.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Ras-Putin (lighter note)

      Putin's downfall will be the one that gets us all ...... namely the Grim Reaper !!!

      What we should be looking at is who is likely to be the replacement and what that persons view of 'russia in the world' means to us all !!!

      Hopefully, it will mean a better relationship with the west, particularly as the BIG issues are not to do with countries/politics/history but Climate change.

      Climate change has no boundaries, political views or opinions about historical events (recent or not).

      If we ALL do not 'deal' with it ....... we ALL go down 'together' !!!

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