Mark Galeotti has a piece on the online Moscow News today entitled Why are Russians excellent cybercriminals? Mr Galeotti seems to have most of his facts right as he wonders:
“Why does every hacking and cyberscam story – real or fictional – seem to have a Russia connection?In part, it is prejudice and laziness. The stereotype of the Russian hacker has become such a common media trope that it gets recycled again and again. It also offers a handy update for those looking for new ways to perpetuate the ‘Russian threat.’
True, the FSS has a a hacker training program and true there is a pool of skilled but under-employed programmers who embrace the hacker world for fun, out of disillusion, or for profit.
I would put the conspiracy theories and Western prejudice (or as it sometime seems romantic infatuation with Russia) aside and consider the quality of Russian human capital. Russia has outstanding universities with world class specialists in mathematics, physics and computer science. The list of notable Russian mathematicians goes on and on, just see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Russian_mathematicians. Russia, very simply, has very very good raw material for hacking.
Having great talent is a great start for getting world-class results in any field.
The Americans have the NBA, the Russians have hackers and the Palestinians – well that’s another story and not a happy one.
Several years ago, doing reserve duty at the Allenby Bridge, Efi Zuroff and I had cushy job of escorting Palestinian VIPs back and forth across the bridge. One day – I traveled in a cab from the bridge with a math professor from Bir Zeit University in Ramallah. I asked him what his specialty was and he replied “Statistics, I got my PhD from Kolmogorov himself”. I admit – I was impressed, and a little sad that our cousins from the other side of the street seem to feel that violence is better alternative than mathematics.