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Russia ranked biggest cybercrime threat to rest of the world

The world’s cyber threats have been ranked (Picture: Getty/iStockphoto)

Russia has topped the world’s first cybercrime index ranking, with Ukraine and China in second and third.

The ‘World Cybercrime Index’ (WCI) scores and ranks where cyber criminals are most active, and placed the US in fourth place, with the UK in eighth after Nigeria and Romania.

The new index shows that a relatively small number of countries house the greatest cybercriminal threats.

Russia was given a WCI score of 58.39, while Ukraine, the second-highest threat, was scored 36.44. China followed on 27.86, with the US on 25.01.

Nigeria scored 21.28, but after that scores quickly dropped, with the UK scoring 9.01, and India in tenth on 6.13.

Latvia, in 20th place, scored 1.68.

The creators of the index hope it can be used as a reference for the public and private sectors to better focus their resources on the nations housing the main perpetrators of cybercrime.

Top 20 countries ranked by cybercrime threat level

  1. Russia (WCI score: 58.39)
  2. Ukraine (36.44)
  3. China (27.86)
  4. US (25.01)
  5. Nigeria (21.28)
  6. Romania (14.83)
  7. North Korea (10.61)
  8. UK (9.01)
  9. Brazil (8.93)
  10. India (6.13)
  11. Iran (4.78)
  12. Belarus (3.87)
  13. Ghana (3.58)
  14. South Africa (2.58)
  15. Moldova (2.57)
  16. Israel (2.51)
  17. Poland (2.22)
  18. Germany (2.17)
  19. Netherlands (1.92)
  20. Latvia (1.68)

Explaining what the cybercrime index hopes to achieve, co-author Dr Miranda Bruce, from the University of Oxford, said: ‘The research that underpins the Index will help remove the veil of anonymity around cybercriminal offenders, and we hope that it will aid the fight against the growing threat of profit-driven cybercrime.

‘We now have a deeper understanding of the geography of cybercrime, and how different countries specialise in different types of cybercrime.

Where the biggest cyberthreats come from, according to the new report (Picture: Created with Datawrapper)

‘By continuing to collect this data, we’ll be able to monitor the emergence of any new hotspots and it is possible early interventions could be made in at-risk countries before a serious cybercrime problem even develops.’

The index, published in the journal PLOS One, was compiled using to a survey of 92 of the world’s leading cybercrime experts involved in cybercrime intelligence gathering and investigations.

Brits lose billions to cybercriminals every year (Picture: Getty)

It asked the experts to consider the five major categories of cybercrime, including attacks and extortion, identity theft, scams and money laundering.

The experts then nominated countries they consider to be the most significant sources of each of these types of cybercrime and ranked them according to the impact, professionalism, and technical skill of their cybercriminals.

The five major categories of cybercrime assessed by the study

  1. Technical products/services (e.g. malware coding, botnet access, access to compromised systems, tool production)
  2. Attacks and extortion (e.g. denial-of-service attacks, ransomware)
  3. Data/identity theft (e.g. hacking, phishing, account compromises, credit card comprises)
  4. Scams (e.g. advance fee fraud, business email compromise, online auction fraud)
  5. Cashing out/money laundering (e.g. credit card fraud, money mules, illicit virtual currency platforms)

Co-author Dr Jonathan Lusthaus, an associate professor at Oxford University, explained how cybercrime has been a largely invisible phenomenon, as offenders often mask their physical locations by hiding behind fake profiles and technical protections.

‘Due to the illicit and anonymous nature of their activities, cybercriminals cannot be easily accessed or reliably surveyed,’ Dr Lusthaus said.

‘They are actively hiding. If you try to use technical data to map their location, you will also fail, as cybercriminals bounce their attacks around internet infrastructure across the world.

‘The best means we have to draw a picture of where these offenders are actually located is to survey those whose job it is to track these people.’

Professor Federico Varese from Sciences Po in France, added that the World Cybercrime Index is the first step in a broader aim to understand the local dimensions of cybercrime production across the world.

‘We are hoping to expand the study so that we can determine whether national characteristics like educational attainment, internet penetration, GDP or levels of corruption are associated with cybercrime,’ Professor Varese said.

‘Many people think cybercrime is global and fluid, but this study supports the view that, much like forms of organised crime, it is embedded within particular contexts.’

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