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Rules for Hacking Russians

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A lot of cyberattacks come from Russia and other former Soviet countries and it happens with general impunity.  Russia hardly ever extradites their own, no matter how many millions they're responsible for stealing.  There are a few unspoken rules for Russian hackers though.

The first rule for Russian hackers is that you do not hack other Russians or any country that was formerly a part of the Soviet Union.

The second rule is that if Russian intelligence asks for you help, you give it to them.

Follow those two rules and, if you're a Russian hacker, you're probably not going to face any trouble (unless you happen to travel outside of the the friendly confines of Russia and former Soviet states, in which case you're likely to get nabbed and shipped off to the US).

There are a few cases where cybercriminals have not followed the primary rule: don't hack other Russians.  While Russia will just shrug and turn their back when asking for extradition of suspected hackers who focus their activities outside the borders, they don't return the same favor to those who target their own.

In 2013, Dmitry Fedotov, also known as Paunch, allegedly created a hacking service that charged $500/month subscriptions.  Russia's Ministry of Internal Affairs said it was involved in cyberattacks against banks worth over $2 million.  In April of this year, another malware developer had been arrested after stealing about $1 million from victims in Europe and the US, but also in Russia.

Another hacker group, led by twin brothers, was also arrested earlier this year.  The twins had an armored door, electromagnets to destroy their computer evidence and prepared text messages for alerting other members of the group.  The twins were already on probation and were suspected in stealing from Sberbank Rossii, the largest bank in Eastern Europe and, you guessed it, Russia.  The Russian government also just happens to be the  bank's majority shareholder.

So if you're going to be a hacker in Russia, just made sure you're aiming all your efforts on the West.  Oh, and watch out where you vacation.