A man with a pitchfork against a cybertank. How to deal with phone scammers?

With the start of the Russian special operation in Ukraine, the number of cyber attacks and cases of telephone fraud fell to almost zero, but then it began to grow rapidly again and now reaches 70% of the level at the beginning of the year, experts in the field of cybersecurity say. In the near future, this number may exceed last year's figures.  

Although the Russian state's critical infrastructure successfully copes with cyber attacks, businesses and ordinary citizens are, in fact, defenseless against hackers and telephone scammers, the industry points out. Experts suggest moving from passive defense to an “active suppression” strategy. The authorities say the issue is being considered.

"We broke everything"

The situation in cyberspace turned out to be the focus of attention of officials, experts and business representatives at the panel session of the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum. The topic is very serious, the participants of the discussion emphasized, because the battles in cyberspace are no less difficult than on the fields of the DPR and LPR. said Deputy Chairman of Sberbank Stanislav Kuznetsov. He described the situation in cyberspace as a large-scale cyber war against Russia. According to him, cyber strikes are carried out across our country from the territory of Ukraine, and the total number of people who are involved in them reaches 300,000 people. The number of cyberattacks has grown 15 times. The main blows were directed at the financial sector, logistics companies, and many others. 80 major services were temporarily blocked. Only the minimum damage suffered by Russian banks from reissuing cards as a result of cyberattacks exceeds 4.5 billion rubles, the deputy chairman of Sberbank noted. Domestic media were also hacked, through which they tried to spread various fakes. 

«The number of telephone fraud cases dropped sharply in the first days of the special operation, but a month later it began to grow again and now reaches 70% of their level before the start operations. In the near future, it may surpass last year's level, — Kuznetsov said. 

Now fraudulent call centers are moving from Ukraine to Western countries. “Any Russian can be under attack,” — emphasized the banker. According to him, data on 20 million citizens of the Russian Federation were found in one of the fraudulent call centers on the territory of Berdyansk. 

But the critical Russian infrastructure is still coping with hacker attacks, Deputy Head of the Ministry of Digital Development Alexander noted Shoytov. According to him, it is still impossible to call what is happening a cyber war against Russia, because the Russian strategic infrastructure in cyberspace is not now facing anything that it has not encountered before. In general, the infrastructure survived largely due to the developed Russian digital industry, he stressed. 

Is it possible to deal with telephone scammers?

The problems of combating telephone scammers remain the same, experts say. If their office is not in Russia, it is virtually impossible to hold them accountable. Now law enforcement agencies can actually only accept a statement of fraud. So far, there is no need to talk about real assistance, bringing criminals to justice, and even more so, the return of funds. “The situation is such that we are being bombed from cyber weapons, and we are lying in a trench, covering our heads with our hands,” — vice-president of Rostelecom described what was happening on cybersecurity Igor Lyapunov

The problem, he says, is that while there are a lot of leading experts in the field of cybersecurity and necessary technologies in Russia, business and ordinary people know little about it. “A tank shaft is coming at us in cyberspace, and our business and ordinary citizens are against it — it's like a man with a pitchfork, — he noted. There is no coordination of protection against cyberattacks by the state yet, Lyapunov complained: “Only slogans sound like:“ Hold the pitchfork, man, fight steadfastly! ”” 

The problem of the so-called “droppers” is now gaining momentum, said Stanislav Kuznetsov. These are people who, on the tip of scammers, withdraw funds from the cards of victims, and then forward them to scammers for a percentage. “In Russia alone, 500,000 people earn this. Isolated cases are known when they are brought to justice and go to jail. The problem is growing like a snowball, because quite recently there were about 200 thousand droppers, — noted the expert. According to him, Russian legislation should be modified to start attracting “droppers” responsibility. 

Among the options for solving the problem of cyberattacks, the idea was expressed of expanding the powers of federal agencies that could work more closely with businesses in this area, as well as closer cooperation between the business itself so that it I could share my experience.

As all participants in the discussion noted, for all its complexity, the situation for Russia is by no means fatal. “We have the best cybersecurity specialists in the country, the best practices, the best companies,” — said Deputy General Director of Gazprom-Media Alexander Moiseev. “This is an invaluable experience that our colleagues around the world are now interested in,” — Igor Lyapunov added. “With all the overlays, we keep the blow, — considers Stanislav Kuznetsov. — They failed to achieve the goals that the attackers wanted to achieve.

When asked by the moderator whether Russia should respond to cyberattacks and fraudulent calls from abroad in a mirror image, Vice President of Rostelecom Igor Lyapunov replied diplomatically: “We must be able to actively suppress such resources.” Present at the discussion Head of the Russian Presidential Department for the Development of Information Technologies Tatyana Matveeva noted that the issue of “active suppression” currently reviewed.

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