Computer Crime Research Center


Putin defies Convention on Cybercrime

Date: March 28, 2008

Russia has refused to sign the European Convention on Cyber Crime. A corresponding resolution has been passed by the RF President Vladimir Putin. Russia did not manage to agree upon appropriate terms for cross-border access to data-processing networks. Several experts believe Russia will lose nothing in case of signing the Convention.

Russian does not intend to sign the European Convention on Cyber Crime. The RF President Vladimir Putin held to acknowledge invalid the ordinance ‘On signing the Convention on Cyber Crime’ of November 15th, 2005, the N &I Agency RIA Novosty reports. In accordance with the given ordinance Russia is to decide independently whether to join the Convention, provided the provisions of Item ‘b’ Article 32, which ‘might damage the sovereignty and security of member countries and their citizens’ rights’, might be revised. The given item reads ‘Party may, without the authorisation of another Party access or receive, through a computer system in its territory, stored computer data located in another Party, if the Party obtains the lawful and voluntary consent of the person who has the lawful authority to disclose the data to the Party through that computer system’.

The Convention on Cybercrime was enforce on July 1st, 2004. By the end of 2005 it was signed by 38 EU member countries, US, Canada, Japan, and SAR. The given Convention is the first document presenting classification of cyber offences. The list consists of illegal access, illegal interception of computer data and systems, data and system interference, misuse of devices, etc. The document also contains provisions describing cooperation of the law enforcement bodies in those cases when malefactors domicile in different countries and are subject to different laws. The Convention contains provisions pertaining to private information security of internet providers’ customers in case the information is required to investigate cyber crimes.

According to Veniamin Levtsov, director of information security development at LETA IT-company, not signing the Convention is unlikely to derive from the current situation in the world. ‘The ordinance of the RF President of November 2005 reads that Russia is ready to ratify the Convention provided the item on cross-border access to computer systems is revised, - Mr. Levtsov says. – That is a reasonable requirement. Russia’s point of view was not counted, so Russian refused to ratify the document’.

‘Frankly speaking, I do not understand how Russia might lose part of its sovereignty signing the Convention, - says Aleksey Dolya, Perimetrix CVO. – At the same time such a convention is of vital importance. It might become the initial step to counter cyberthreats internationally. The number to cyber malefactors is growing from year to year, companies’ and individuals’ losses also increasing. One can say that from year to year cyber offences are becoming a more effective way to profit’.

Experts point to two possible reasons. Firstly, cyber criminals earn well stealing money from bank accounts, through credit cards fraud and industrial espionage. At the same time each cyber malefactor has the opportunity to focus on his favorite activity. Some specialize in writing malcodes, others in spam sending, the third rent bot networks, the fourth steal credit card numbers, the fifth produce counterfeit plastic cards, etc. The global division of labour is prospering.

Secondly, the possibility to be caught is very low. There are such countries like Panama, where cyber malefactors might do what they want. Neither US, Europe, or Russia can exert pressure over such countries. Moreover, there is no adequate cooperation even between developed countries. Meanwhile, malefactors turn to their oversea colleagues due to labour division. Contemporary groups of cyber criminals consist of different countries’ citizens, i.e. US, Brazil, China, Russia and CIS.

Specialists do not consider developing an alternative Convention on Cybercrime in Russian reasonable. ‘Other steps should be undertaken: obligatory provision and industrial standards relating to information security should be introduced, - says Veniamin Levtsov. – Rather tough criminal legislation on cybercrime has already been enforced in Russia’.

‘Cybercrime is not limited to spam, virus, bot networks and DOS attacks, - says Aleksey Dolya. – It also relates to leakages. There were groups of criminals consisting of insiders, who stole information from bank accounts, which was then sold by their abettors in the internet. It is impossible to combat such groups having no corresponding regulations’.

‘The number of internet users is increasing from day to day, so it is not incidentally that the state is paying more attention to information security and protection in the internet, in particular’, - says Andrey Albitov, head of Eset Russian Representation Office. It should be noted Vladimir Putin has made another important decision regarding information security in Russia. He signed the ordinance on the state secrets protection from internet leakages.

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