Sanctions Hitting Russian Cyber-Criminals Hard

Western sanctions are impacting not only the Putin regime but also the personal and professional lives of Russian cyber-criminals caught in the crossfire, it has emerged.

Digital Shadows recently analyzed chatter on Russian cybercrime forums and revealed some interesting insights.

Some forum users complained of a recent US Postal Service (USPS) decision to suspend international mail services to Russia because sanctions have reduced the availability of transportation to the region.

“This is a matter of deep concern for carders, as transporting goods purchased using stolen payment card details forms a key part of the attack chain,” explained the Digital Shadows Photon Research Team.

“The delivery companies UPS and FedEx also recently announced the temporary withdrawal of their Russian services, further restricting the options for threat actors who rely on international organizations to move their illicit goods around.”

It’s not just carders that are being impacted. On a cybercrime forum, a phishing actor complained that their attempts at posting scam ads on social media were hitting new roadblocks.

“They explained that they had followed ‘all the principles’ for ensuring a successful scam – taking into account the appearance and age of the account – but had been unable to successfully share a phishing post spoofing an unnamed bank,” Digital Shadows noted.

Instagram, Facebook and Twitter have now been blocked in Russia, making life harder for cyber-criminals wanting to abuse these platforms.

Interestingly, it’s not just cybercrime activity disrupted by sanctions. The conflict has also highlighted a little-reported fact: many cyber-criminals also have legitimate day jobs, which are now impacted by the war.

One Russian cybercrime forum user reportedly explained that deliveries from Poland and Germany to the factory they work at have now been halted.

“The user described how the factory management had sent over 100 workers home until the situation improves,” Digital Shadows explained.

“They highlighted that many of the workers have a family or loans to support, asking desperately, ‘What do I do now? Where do I earn money?’ They added, ‘I just don’t see a way out.’”

Whether these pressures drive more cybercrime activity as desperate Russians try to make ends meet remains to be seen.

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