MOSCOW – They say crime doesn't pay, but for Russian-speaking cybercriminals it has paid very, very well.
According to a new report they raked in over $4 billion in 2011, nearly a third of the $12.5 billion global cybercrime market. About half of that took place in Russia itself, nearly double the previous year's total.
The report, released Tuesday by the Russian cybercrime investigation company Group-IB, found that cybercrime in Russia and in neighboring countries is also getting more sophisticated as traditional mafia rings have begun operating in the digital world.
Previously, the company noted, the market was comprised of individual hackers, but they have now consolidated their efforts and traditional organized crime groups are clamoring for a piece of the action.
The most lucrative form of Russian cybercrime last year was online fraud, which brought in nearly a billion dollars, followed by spam which topped $830 million.
The Group-IB report blamed lax Russian laws for the expansion of cybercrime. While the Russian government has tried to tighten legislation aimed at preventing and punishing such activity, the company said more was needed.
"The cybercrime market originating from Russia costs the global economy billions of dollars every year," Ilya Sachkov, Group-IB's CEO, said in a statement on the company's website. "Although the Russian government has taken some very positive steps, we think it needs to go further by changing existing law enforcement practices, establishing proper international cooperation and ultimately improving the number of solved computer crimes."