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Hunting Russian hackers: Meet the Canadian on the frontlines of a cyberwar – National

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Hunting Russian hackers: Meet the Canadian on the frontlines of a cyberwar - National


Nicholas Palmer’s day process is looking Russian hackers.

Originally from Nova Scotia, Palmer is now the director of world industry at GroupIB, a non-public cyber-safety company primarily based in Moscow. Palmer has spent his occupation fighting and responding to cyber-assaults on web customers and companies round the international, however he says cyber-criminals from Russia constitute his biggest problem.

“We’ve seen them very easily enter banks’ networks and conduct very highly-skilled attacks against theoretically well-protected networks,” Palmer mentioned, pointing to a faux Royal Bank of Canada website online concentrated on Canadian consumers.


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“Unfortunately, we detect thousands of these (phishing websites) that are hosted in Russia. Russian-speaking cyber-criminals are a very talented group of people.”

Russians’ tech-savvy cyber-talents are rooted in historical past. The nation boasts an outstanding monitor-document of technological innovation and has prioritized training in the fields of math and engineering for many years. But after the Soviet financial system collapsed, unemployment soared and jobs for staff with technical talents have been in brief provide.

 

A screenshot of a faux RBC “phishing site,” very similar to the ones allegedly utilized by Russian hackers.

Nicholas Palmer

“So, unfortunately, young individuals that have high programming skills with no job opportunities may choose the path of quick success for dollars,” Palmer mentioned.

Alexandr Varskoy is a former Russian hacker, who grew up all over Russia’s gruelling financial transition in the 1990s. “Computers offered a kind of freedom in those hard times,” he mentioned, explaining that he used to hack firms’ knowledge for amusing. “When you’re 15, it’s cool to hack into Microsoft or Vodafone and say ‘hi’ using your codename. At first, it was just to prove yourself to your friends in the hacking scene. But then the Internet became a marketplace. And later the political games started and the cyber-world entered a dangerous time.”


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A flurry of contemporary top-profile cyber-assaults has been blamed on Russians, including the hacking of anti-doping companies primarily based in Canada and the assault on the U.S. Democratic National Committee (DNC) and Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign. The U.S. Department of Justice has accused Russia’s intelligence company, the G.R.U., in each assaults.

“It’s unclear how much of it was actually perpetrated by the Russian government and on whose orders,” mentioned Anton Fedyashin, a Russian historical past professional at American University in Washington, D.C. “But then again, to be surprised at foreign governments collecting information on their opponents or their partners, even through cyber-penetration, is really to be sort of ignorant of how the contemporary world works.”

WATCH: Russia accused of cyberattacks in Canada and round the international





Varskoy says the risk posed via Russian hackers is overblown and that Russia’s “golden age” in our on-line world is over.

Alexandr Varskoy is a former Russian hacker, who grew up during Russia’s gruelling economic transition in the 1990s.

Alexandr Varskoy is a former Russian hacker, who grew up all over Russia’s gruelling financial transition in the 1990s.

Jeff Semple

“American hackers, Russian hackers, German hackers are on the same level,” he mentioned. “Germany is the most sensible nation in the international in phrases of servers and {hardware}. You must depend the {hardware}, now not the – People.

“Cyber-warfare is ready {hardware}, now not ‘Snowdens’ or ‘Assanges.’”


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And not like the tricky post-Soviet years, tech-savvy Russians now have lots of occupation paths to choose between. Russia’s unemployment fee is at its lowest degree in years and the nation now has a scarcity of IT experts. Palmer’s cyber-safety corporate works with native faculties and universities to recruit and teach Russian early life, “to show them that there’s a lot of really cool opportunities within the cyber-security space to use your skills for good,” he mentioned.

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