Cybercrime to Drain $44bn from Russian Economy in 2020

A state-owned Russian banking and financial services company has estimated that the Russian economy will lose $44bn to cybercrime in 2020. 

Reuters reports that the estimate was published on Tuesday by Sberbank, which has held the title of Russia's largest bank since 2014. 

From its headquarters in Moscow, Sberbank said that the shift away from store-based cash transactions to digital payments triggered by the outbreak of COVID-19 had exacerbated security concerns. 

With the novel coronavirus still raging around the world and lockdowns being reimposed, the bank's predictions for 2021 are glum. Sberbank, which has nearly 100 million active clients, predicted that the economic fallout from cybercrime could double in the year ahead. 

“On average, we have to deal with 26 billion cybersecurity events every day,” said Stanislav Kuznetsov, deputy chairman of Sberbank’s executive board.

Speaking to Russia's parliament, the Duma, in March of this year, President Vladimir Putin called for a crackdown on internet-enabled crime. 

Interior ministry data released in October revealed that the number of crimes linked to bank cards in Russia had increased by 500% in 2020.

"I'm asking for a system, a set of measures to reduce the number of such crimes," said Putin.

Later that month, Russia's Federal Security Service, the FSB, announced that as part of a joint operation with the Ministry of Internal Affairs, it had detained over 30 individuals across 11 regions of the country and charged 25 of them with selling stolen credit and debit card data online. 

Authorities said that the individuals had created more than 90 online stores through which they sold stolen data. 

In 2019, Russia’s minister of internal affairs, Alexander Kolokoltsev, said that cybercrimes in Russia had increased dramatically while other types of crimes had diminished.  

"In the last few years Internet crime has seen a 16-fold surge," Kolokoltsev told a meeting of the Ministry's Social Council. 

"This number is huge, despite the fact that crime in general is subsiding, felonies included. It’s precisely here, where we can concentrate and unite our efforts."

Kolokoltsev added that the increase in cybercrime could be partly due to a lack of awareness of online scams and fraudulent schemes among Russia's vulnerable citizens.  

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