back to article Ukraine invasion blew up Russian cybercrime alliances

The so-called "brotherhood" or Russian-speaking cybercriminals is yet another casualty of the war in Ukraine, albeit one that few outside of Moscow are mourning. As the illegal invasion hits the one-year mark, new research suggests the conflict also disrupted Russia and the former Soviet Union's criminal ecosystem, which has " …

  1. DS999 Silver badge

    If Russia gives legal immunity to cybercriminals

    The rest of the world should respond by dropping routes to Russian IP blocks in their routers. They can't lean on China for this because China's Great Firewall makes it useless as a transit point, so they would have to use VPNs in a 'friendly' third party country like Saudi Arabia. It would be a game of whack a mole, but the ROW can block the IPs used by those VPNs or even block the entire netblock of the ISP supporting those VPNs. The harder the cybercriminals have to work to even reach IPs in the US/UK/EU the less actual cybercrime they have a chance to commit.

    Yes, this would make it impossible for innocent Russians to access news outside Putin's bubble but there is probably not very much of that anymore what with the big penalties for getting caught, and that's much less harmful collateral damage for civilians than what Putin is inflicting on Ukrainian civilians!

    1. BOFH in Training

      Re: If Russia gives legal immunity to cybercriminals

      Will not mind this.

      I already have Russia, China, North Korea, etc IP blocks blocked for years before the current events at the router / server levels.

      I don't have any legitimate traffic expected from those places, so I don't mind having those blocks in place.

    2. This post has been deleted by its author

    3. ChoHag Silver badge

      Re: If Russia gives legal immunity to cybercriminals

      Why does this sort of story always have a "shut down the internet" comment? On this, of all sites?

      The internet is not going to get shut down. Avoiding being shut down is what the internet is for. Go read an RFC.

      1. bpfh

        Re: If Russia gives legal immunity to cybercriminals

        The internet was designed for redundant connectivity if one node gets nuked, another node can take over down a different path... The above comments are more along the lines of voluntarily not accepting traffic - and I would not be surprised to see if Russia starts popping off tactical nukes that western ISP's and carriers will be asked (ordered) to suspend any peering with Russian networks or routing of Russian traffic...

    4. Col_Panek

      Re: If Russia gives legal immunity to cybercriminals

      Putin should conscript them all and send them to the front lines.

    5. doublelayer Silver badge

      Re: If Russia gives legal immunity to cybercriminals

      "The harder the cybercriminals have to work to even reach IPs in the US/UK/EU the less actual cybercrime they have a chance to commit."

      If it's Russian government supported, they won't have all that much trouble getting VPNs. They can use a lot of layers of proxies, so they can first go through China, then to another endpoint which China isn't blocking, from there onto a compromised computer in Canada, from there onto a cloud server in Germany, and by now it's hard enough to tell whether the German server is responding to commands from someone in Russia or not when you don't know the path. The changes you propose would work for organizations that send a lot of traffic out from Russia, because they can't easily VPN through somewhere without being obvious about it, but cybercriminals don't tend to have to send all that many packets to get their job done. A few kilobytes of encrypted C&C traffic from Russia can set off a global botnet to spread the instructions around, and there's little you can do to prevent that level of traffic from getting through.

      As another method of penalizing Russia, blocking the networks could work though I won't promise that it's worth the consequences. It will probably put a large dent into small-scale criminal activity from people who aren't savvy enough to get their connections through. For anything with government assistance or with sufficient experience that they were already the scale of a small company, it's likely to be ineffective unless the world can quickly and easily agree on a thick line (we can't, because it would require almost immediately cutting off China because they're certainly not going to drop Russia's traffic).

  2. Lil Endian Silver badge

    Old Pacts Ditched

    Colour me gobsmacked!

    It's common to hear "No honour amongst thieves." and certainly shown here. I'd note there no difference between the crims and those in legit walks of life, eg. corporates and politics. There are "honourable" members in all of the groups - those that "follow the code", but they're an exception. The majority of those with/in power are self-serving and turn on each other in a moment, revealing their lack of integrity. Humans, I almost feel sorry for them!

  3. sarusa Silver badge

    Public and Open

    Russian cybercriminals and and government have been allies for decades, and they've effectively been arms of the government ranging from hands off wink wink to direct government funding and oversight, as in China. Some Russian groups are entirely government operated but pretending to be independent, again like China. I guess this just makes it official like North Korea or Iran.

    And of course the bit where the slavics outside Russia no longer treat Russia with kid gloves.

  4. jgarbo

    Nazi invasion...

    After the US-backed overthrow of Ukraine's democratic govt in 2014, the neo-Nazi Ukrainian forces attacked Russian speakers for 8 yrs, killing 15,000 civilians. Russia finally intervened in 2022, under Geneva Convention Art 51, "Responsibility to Care" for imminent genocide. Legal. Sadly, El Reg readers are ignorant outside their little world of tech and Guardian Garbage.

    1. beardman

      Re: Nazi invasion...

      Your way is to follow the cruiser Moskva. For others this is an example how harmful is to watch ruzzian tv.

    2. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

      The chance of a Nazi invasion were a million to one they said ...

      Sadly, El Reg readers are ignorant outside their little world of tech and Guardian Garbage. .... jgarbo

      Not all El Reg readers, jgarbo. More than just a choosy selective few are surprisingly, and worryingly for more than those imagining themselves as an elite chosen few, extremely aware of what they are doing and what can be further easily practically remotely and virtual autonomously and relatively anonymously done with/in worlds of tech and Guardian Garbage.

      Such, of course, renders a wholly new, completely different light and retrospective on those engaging matters of great and good pan-national and geopolitical and socio-economic concern which paints a much brighter picture than you appear to imagine presently available and up and currently running. But those are the facts which you can spin as a fiction if you like, but such doesn’t alter the virtual reality of their/ITs existence or, if you prefer, the virtual existence of their/ITs reality.

      :-) Enjoy, a tad of Jeff Wayne, prefacing an Alien Intervention....

      No one would have believed

      In the last years of the nineteenth century

      That human affairs were being watched from the timeless worlds of space

      No one could have dreamed that we were being scrutinized

      As someone with a microscope studies creatures that swarm and multiply in a drop of water

      Few men even considered the possibility of life on other planets

      And yet, across the gulf of space

      Minds immeasurably superior to ours

      Regarded this Earth with envious eyes

      And slowly and surely, they drew their plans against us

      At midnight, on the 12th of August

      A huge mass of luminous gas erupted from Mars and sped towards Earth

      Across two hundred million miles of void

      Invisibly hurtling towards us

      Came the first of the missiles that were to bring so much calamity to Earth

      As I watched, there was another jet of gas

      It was another missile, starting on its way

      And that's how it was for the next ten nights

      A flare, spurting out from Mars

      Bright green, drawing a green mist behind it

      A beautiful, but somehow disturbing sight

      Ogilvy, the astronomer, assured me we were in no danger

      He was convinced there could be no living thing on that remote

      Forbidding planet

      The chances of anything coming from Mars

      Are a million to one, he said

      The chances of anything coming from Mars

      Are a million to one, but still, they come

      Then came the night the first missile approached Earth

      It was thought to be an ordinary falling star

      But next day there was a huge crater in the middle of the common

      And Ogilvy came to examine what lay there

      A cylinder, thirty yards across, glowing hot

      With faint sounds of movement coming from within

      Suddenly the top began moving, rotating, unscrewing

      And Ogilvy feared there was a man inside trying to escape

      He rushed to the cylinder but the intense heat stopped him

      Before he could burn himself on the metal

      The chances of anything coming from Mars

      Are a million to one, he said

      The chances of anything coming from Mars

      Are a million to one, but still, they come

      Yes, the chances of anything coming from Mars

      Are a million to one, he said

      The chances of anything coming from Mars

      Are a million to one, but still, they come

      It seems totally incredible to me now that

      Everyone spent that evening as though it were just like any other

      From the railway station came the sound of shunting trains

      Ringing and rumbling, softened almost into melody by the distance

      It all seemed so safe and tranquil

    3. RPF

      Re: Nazi invasion...

      Your figures are of course wrong.

      "About 14,200–14,400 people were killed in the war, the vast majority of them in the first year: 6,500 pro-Russian separatist forces, 4,400 Ukrainian forces, and 3,404 civilians on both sides of the frontline"

      Your narrative is also - of course - wrong as well.

      "The next day, 22 February, the Ukrainian parliament voted to remove Yanukovych from office by 328 to 0 (about 73% of the parliament's 450 members).....Russia condemned the events as a "coup". Pro-Russian, counter-revolutionary protests erupted in southern and eastern Ukraine"

      So there were no "Neo-nazis", no "attack on Russian speakers" and far fewer civilian casualties. Russia also had no responsibility over Ukrainian territory, either.

      Seems you're the ignorant one.

      1. Black Label1
        Black Helicopters

        Re: Nazi invasion...

        More correct numbers here in Brave New Europe website.

        "In March 2022, Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelensky seemed to understand Ukraine’s dire predicament as victim of a US-Russia proxy war. He declared publicly that Ukraine would become a neutral country, and asked for security guarantees. He also publicly recognised that Crimea and Donbas would need some kind of special treatment.

        Israel’s prime minister at that time, Naftali Bennett, became involved as a mediator, along with Turkey. Russia and Ukraine came close to reaching an agreement. Yet, as Bennett has recently explained, the US “blocked” the peace process."

        1. HausWolf

          Re: Nazi invasion...

          I was under the impression Moscow had already agreed to security guarantee's when Ukraine gave up its' nukes. But Russian promises have mostly been worthless in my lifetime.

          1. ChoHag Silver badge

            Re: Nazi invasion...

            Close, but no cigar.

            Russia has always been what Ukraine needs security guarantees against. It is us who promised them security and us who broke that promise.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Nazi invasion...

      You are correct about it being a nazi invasion. By the Russian nazis.

      Far right parties in Ukraine got less than 2% of the vote in recent elections, less than in most other European countries. Putin on the other hand has encouraged neo nazis to do his dirty work.

      As to your claims of genocide. Bullshit I am afraid. The only reason there are any conflict related deaths in the Donbas is due to Russian fomenting an insurgency there in 2014. There have been casualties on both sides in the intervening years, caused by both sides. The 14,000+ deaths includes ALL the people killed on both sides, including the combatants. That happens when you start a conflict. If there really was any ethnic cleansing & genocide, then Russian speaking Ukrainians would be fighting for Russia. They are not, most of them are fighting against the invaders.

      As to the claims of liberation, you don't "liberate" people by shelling their cities to rubble, killing thousands and displacing tens of thousands.

      The fact is, Putin doesn't give a shit about the people of the Donbas. They were one of his nonsense pretexts for invasion, along with NATO breaching the "not an inch promise" (which doesn't exist), getting rid of non-existent nazis, then non-existent satanists. He doesn't give a shit about his own army either and is willing to sacrifice as many of them as required to achieve his aims.

      Putin launched the invasion as he thought a quick victory would secure his position and his place in history. He will be remembered in history, but not for the reasons he wanted.

  5. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    "[..] has not produced the disruptive results that the Russian state has expected"

    So, Putin's keyboard warriors are no better than Putin's actual army. Go ahead and forgive them all, your sad little regime is not going to hold out much longer anyway.

    1. David 132 Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: "[..] has not produced the disruptive results that the Russian state has expected"

      Well said PM, though I’ll gently remind you of the old aphorism about wrestling with a pig…

      And honestly, the original comment was the best laugh I’ve had all week. I half expect it to be revealed as an over-the-top parody of dumbfuck Putin trolls.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Criminals may often be incompetent but ...

    .. they are not totally daft when it comes to the authorities.

    Why would you confess your crimes and hope that just because of the current situation they would be ignored ... current situations have a habit of changing.

    Usually the only way they work for them is because they are caught and it is in lieu of something worse.

  7. This post has been deleted by its author

  8. The Kraken

    So, finally...

    What has been bleeding obvious for years - Russia (and Belarus) is a criminal state.

    So why hasn't the west simply cut off all their internet access ? Along with North Korea and Iran.

    After all, it isn't hard to trace the comms routes and locate the fibres...

    And warn China - play ball or we cut you off, too.

    Or .. let's get it over with - nuke'em, now. All of it.

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