The Economy and Profit of Russian Hackers

In a report by NBC News, the annual turnover of cyber crime in Russia was estimated to be $2 Billion. The hackers based in Russia who contribute to this black market sell a wide range of computer viruses, malware, hacking tools and stolen credit card information on underground forums.

An example of this market was seen in the stolen credit cards from Target. The program that was used to hack into Target was traced back to a 17 year old hacker from St. Petersburg. The hacker allegedly sold the program on underground hacker sites for $2,000.  Security experts have been able to determine at least 40 different hackers used the program to hack into US retail stores.

Another example of this market is the spammers from Russia, who make up to $60 Million a year from their services.

(More prices for hacking services on the black market.)

Russia’s cyber crime economy is full of expert programmers and engineers. With its universities producing highly trained mathematicians and engineers, there is an abundant of talent in Russia. However, the legitimate economy is unable to absorb all these programmers, and those that do find employment are not highly paid. The salary for an average computer programmer in Russia is $24,000 a year.

Source:  Ben Plesser, “Skilled, Cheap Russian Hackers Power American Cybercrime,” NBC News, February 5, 2014.