What is it that makes the Ukraine such a fitting refuge for hackers and cyber crooks?
According to a number of well-informed individuals, it is a combination of inadequate legislation, a police force that lacks knowledge and authority, poverty, and politics heavily influenced by corruption and organized crime.
As the five Ukrainian hackers who have allegedly used the Conficker worm to syphon over $72 million from US bank accounts still walk around free while the investigation into their activities seems to yield unsatisfactory results even a year and a half later, even officials of the Security Service of Ukraine are forced to admit that Ukraine is a potential source of cyber threats to other countries.
The problem with the lack of adequate laws that would sanction cyber criminal activities can be tied to Ukraine’s political situation.
According to the editor of Ukraine Analyst Taras Kuzio, the Ukrainian governing elite – similarly to the Russian one – is not interested in updating laws because that is not in the interest of the organized crime groups that exert inappropriate influence over the government and its decisions.
He pointed out that those who want to make a difference and change things are often thwarted and – as the example of the former Interior Minister Yuriy Lutsenko shows – even imprisoned in order to be stopped.
Intellectual piracy, copyright infringement and plagiarism are an everyday thing in Ukraine, he says, because there is no actual rule of law that would sanction such behavior. And even when investigations are mounted against some offenders, law enforcement is rarely able to keep them or their services offline while the inquiry is ongoing.
The lousy economic situation is also part of the problem. “It is not an excuse, but without a moral compass, everything becomes a game of what you can get away with, especially when you always have the option of buying off an official to make something illegal go away,” an expert that wished to remain unnamed commented for Computerworld.
It is no wonder, then, that in a country where everything works in favor of cyber crooks, law enforcement is lagging severely behind. Comparing the sophistication of the hacker community with that of law enforcement, Brian Krebs says that the gap is tremendous because Ukrainian hackers are some of the best in the world.
Is there a solution to this problem?
Some say that pumping investments into the country’s economy would make the situation better, as knowledgeable people would be able to get a legitimate job that pays enough for them to live a normal life, and would abandon illegal pursuits. Others seem to think that a push for more enforcement of existent laws and, hopefully, future and better ones is the way to go.
Unfortunately, whatever the ultimate choice for action is, it’s unlikely that the improvement of the situation will be fast.