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Americans are told to stay aware of Russian hackers

April 28, 2014, 18:29 UTC+3 Alexandrova Lyudmila

MOSCOW, April 28. /ITAR-TASS/. After the United States has announced a new package of sanctions against Moscow some US pundits have come up with warnings Russian hackers may try to take revenge on US banks and companies. Russian experts believe that in order to prevent cyber attacks, an international system should be established to identify the sources of cyber threats. Without that cyber terrorism can be blamed on whoever is close at hand.

Both US officials and security specialists warn that Russian hackers may respond to sanctions imposed on Russia by attacking the computer networks of US banks and other companies, Bloomberg said. The risks such sanctions may entail were emphasized by experts at the Financial Services Roundtable (FSR) - a Washington-based organization uniting more than 100 US corporations, including Citigroup and the Bank of America.

“A cyber attack is a serious concern that we all need to have,” Paul Smocer, the head of the group’s technology policy division said. The FRS believes Russian hackers are among the most resourceful in the world. There is the fear they have already made preparations for a large-scale cyber offensive, capable of paralyzing the US economy within a matter of days.

It is true that Russian hackers have a reputation of excellent professionals. Just recently Facebook published the results of a project in which programmers from around the world were asked to identify the potential weaknesses in the largest social network. In 2013 Russian hackers grabbed the highest awards. They identified 38 bugs. Facebook estimated each of them at $3,961- the highest prize for one exposed vulnerability. On the list of the ‘exploits’ that Russian hackers have to their credit is access to a data base containing personal information about 54 million Turkish citizens, including their addresses and names. This astonishing piece of news arrived last December. The attack was so successful because some Turkish political parties had loaded voter information without protecting their servers properly, even without anti-virus software. Hackers took advantage of this to gain access to literally all data in just two hours after the upload.

According to various sources, Russia has up to 20,000 cyber criminals. The market of computer crimes in the country has reached $1 billion a year. Russian cyber security specialists have warned against over-dramatizing the situation, though, but at the same time they believe it will be crucial to create a universally recognized system capable of tracking down the sources of cyber attacks.

“The issue of protecting financial structures is a high priority around the world,” the deputy director of the Information Security Problems Institute at the Moscow State University, Alexei Salnikov, told ITAR-TASS in an interview. At the same time, in his opinion, there are enough specialists  in the United States  for effective protection against serious attacks. The analyst also pointed to what he described as political risks. Cyber attacks may be launched from other states, “for instance, by Ukrainian nationalists or the Americans themselves” only to eventually blame it on Russia. He recalled that was precisely the case in Estonia years ago during the row over the dismantling of a monument to Soviet soldiers. Then the hacker attacks were attributed to Russia, while in the end it turned out that they were mounted from the United States and from Estonia. A similar incident happened in Georgia.

The responsibility for attacks may be placed on whoever is at hand. The mechanism of consequences will be set in motion anyway, Salnikov said. This is precisely the reason why Russia has come out with the initiative of establishing an international system that would provide protection for critically important facilities.

“The timeframe for the implementation of such a system depends entirely on the political will of the leaders of participating countries,” he added.


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