Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Reporter Andrew Conte On Why Russian Hackers Are a Big Problem for the US

Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

This week Russian hackers reportedly stole 1.2 billion internet credentials from major U.S. companies and others around the world in what may turn out to be the biggest data breach ever. The hackers stole usernames and passwords from 420,000 websites that range in size and popularity.

Tribune-Review reporter Andrew Conte covered cyber crimes by Russians earlier this summer and said what’s surprising is these data breaches happen all the time.

“We had a story the other day about different Russian hackers," Conte said. "One guy had 600 million credit cards that he had stolen and was selling. The U.S. government figured, ‘Well, $500 per credit card, $300 million in damages,’ but the fact is, it could have been much, much more than that.”

There are a few reasons why the United States government is having problems dealing with these hackers.

Identifying the hackers is a difficult task, as they use services to protect their names and email accounts, and proving that the person was behind the cyber crimes can be problematic in court because of these services, Conte said. The even more troubling part is, when the hackers are tracked down and identified, they are often outside of the U.S. jurisdiction, and Russia has not shown much interest to help.

“These hackers are operating in Russia and the government either condones it by just ignoring it or in some cases, we hear about these hackers having to pay bribes to keep the government from coming after them,” Conte said.

So if Russia is not interested enough to stop these hackers now, what will it take to get Russia to go after these hackers?

“What could eventually happen is that if these hackers start hitting victims in Russia as well," Conte said, "then the Russian government sort of wakes up to it."