Wait, Is Cybercrime in Russia Actually Declining?

It just might be, according to a report published today by a Russian security firm. The findings defy conventional wisdom about cybercrime rates in a country that's a notorious source of hacking threats.

Moscow-based Group-IB estimates that the size of the cybercrime market in Russia was $1.07 billion last year. The firm said the market was $1.19 billion in 2011, an 11 percent decrease led by declines in online-banking fraud.

Because the security firm does computer-forensics work for Russian law enforcement, financial institutions and energy companies, it has a unique view into online crime in Russia. However, Group-IB also benefits from seeing the numbers fall because its work with police is pitched as a way to reduce crime.

Eastern European hackers are among the world's most sophisticated, which is what makes the numbers surprising. These hackers don't get as much publicity as those in China, but they are just as dangerous because they use sophisticated attack software and operate in small, tightly knit teams, Tom Kellermann, vice president of cybersecurity for Trend Micro, wrote in a report last year.

The declines in Russia's cybercrime market should be encouraging to law enforcement, but the annual costs remain at over $1 billion. Whether the cybercrime market ticks up or down, that's still a massive business.

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