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For IT, the Soviet menace is alive and well

Ever since the collapse of the Soviet Union more than 15 years ago, some of the brightest minds in the former regime have gone underground in their never-ending search for cash. You’ve heard plenty about former nuclear scientists working for the highest bidder. But the underground has also become home to IT specialists who are now using their talents to aid organized criminal organizations.

The fact that online fraud is driven by organized crime has been well established for the last few years. But as more of these organizations are tracked, it’s becoming increasingly clear that a lot of our troubles are coming from the former Soviet block, says Don Ulsch, technology risk management director in the Boston office of Jefferson Wells International Inc.

During a lunchtime presentation on emerging threats Wednesday with a group of IT security execs in Newton, Mass., Ulsch noted that there are thousands of active criminal groups in Russia, and they are determined to steal trade secrets from whatever company networks they are hired to infiltrate. They’ve been particularly successful at infiltrating company IT systems in New York, Pennsylvania, California and Massachusetts, he said.

Meanwhile, a majority of online child porn is coming from former Soviet states, as well as South America and Southeast Asia.

“Russian organizations are a growing threat to national security,” Ulsch said. “And they are hiring the services of more and more IT communications pros.”

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