Now that 3 companies and 13 individuals from Russia have been indicted for U.S. election interference, the general American populace has insight into a problem that has been growing for years: Russia has little respect for the law. In fact, based on a recent study on the Economic Impact of Cybercrime CSIS undertook with McAfee, Russia leads the world in cybercrime. This reflects both the skill of its hacker community and its disdain for western law enforcement.
The complex and close relationship between the Russian state and organized crime means that Russia provides a sanctuary for the most advanced cybercriminals, who focus on the financial sector. The best cybercriminals in the world live in Russia, and as long as they do not travel to countries where they could be arrested, they are largely immune from prosecution. For example, one of the cybercriminals who hacked Yahoo at the behest of Russian intelligence services, compromising millions of accounts and transferred the PII to the Russian government, also used the stolen data for spam and credit card fraud for personal benefit.
Yet Russia is hardly the only country specializing in cybercrime; China, North Korea, and Iran are right up there. The combination of massive budgets, access to talent and protection from law enforcement make nation-states the most dangerous source of cybercrime, which our report estimates takes about a $600 billion toll on the global economy.