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Russia Cybercrime Market Reached $1.9 Billion in 2012, Group-IB Estimates

Security researchers at Russia-based firm Group-IB estimates that the size of the Russian cybercrime market reached $1.938 billion in 2012.

Security researchers at Russia-based firm Group-IB estimates that the size of the Russian cybercrime market reached $1.938 billion in 2012.

The estimate is a slight drop off from 2011, when the firm estimate hit just more than $2 billion. Just like then however, the largest portion of cybercrime revenue in 2012 came from spam, which accounted for $786 million. Internet fraud accounted for $615 million of the recent estimate.

“This Group-IB report, centered on empirical evidence gathered on Russian cyber crime, shows a global rise in cyber criminals using an array of methodologies to attack end user’s online banking services,” Dan Clements, US Managing Partner at Group-IB, said in a statement. “The report also shows that these types of attacks are carried out by cyber gangs, some of which have been dismantled and some arrests have taken place.”

“The report also shows that global cyber laws are still somewhat ambiguous and that that governments vary on cyber crime punishments. These issues provide a challenge for law enforcement and the financial sectors to work more closely in a transparent cross border effort to apprehend cyber criminals.”

According to data gathered using its FraudMonitor system, Group-IB determined that the average amount stolen from the bank account of a “legal entity” in 2012 was $2.5 million rubles. This amount however may be greater than the actual amount because banks tend to only report data involving large thefts.

“After consultations with the largest banks in Russia and comparing their internal statistics with those of Group-IB, the average amounts stolen from legal entities and from individuals were estimated at $1.64 million rubles and $75,000 rubles respectively,” according to the report.

“Despite the large number of theft attempts, an average of one group, committing theft against the bank accounts of legal entities, makes four successful fraudulent transactions per day,” the report continued. “Groups specializing in stealing from the bank accounts of individuals, on average, also commit four successful thefts per day, but with a considerably higher number of attempts.”

The Bank of Russia reported that 7,870 incidents were recorded in banks in the second half of 2012, according to Group-IB. Of these incidents, 43.1 percent were related to the illegal transfer of funds online.

Another segment of the cyber-underground is the market for distributed denial-of-service attacks. That represented $110 million in 2012, compared to $130 million in 2011.

The report also touches on several exploit kits believed to have Russian authorship that were detected in 2012, including Blackhole, Nuclear and Styx. 

“This report is…evidence to that, depicting the most current, in our view, picture of the criminal segment of the Internet and describing in details the new tools used by attackers,” said Ilya Sachkov, founder and CEO of Group-IB, in a statement. “We want to use real numbers to draw attention to the cybercrime problem, which continues to grow and cause damage to various sectors of the economy of Russia and other countries.” 

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