Russian government equates cyber-crimes to theft

News by Eugene Gerden

Russia is making it easier to prosecute cyber-crimes by characterising them as theft, not fraud, which will also allow the imposition of tougher penalties as it was previously difficult to establish that they were serious crimes.

The Russian government is introducing a law that will equate cyber-crime to common theft, thereby increasing the consequences of conducting cyber-crimes.

Artem Sychev, deputy chief of the department of information security and protection management of the Central Bank of Russia told SCMagazineUK.com that the bill contains two fundamental changes, particularly recognition of a cyber-crime as a theft (not fraud, in accordance with the current practice), as well as setting out more serious punishments for conviction.

According to the Russian Central Bank, the existing punishment for cyber-crimes in Russia does not correspond to the amount of damage caused and should be significantly increased.

According to the current Russian criminal legislation, the maximum sentence for carrying out cyber-crimes in Russia is five years imprisonment. This is, however, does not correlate with international practice. For example, in the the US, the punishment for this kind of crime is 25 years, while in China it is 10 years.

The major problem for Russia is that it is not always possible to characterise cyber-crime as a serious crime, despite the fact that the amount of damage may reach millions of dollars.

In comparison, equating cyber-crimes to theft (where monetary damage is obvious), will allow law enforcement to significantly increase penalities for such crimes and will allow the authorities to ramp up their fight against hackers.

Vladislav Vorotnikov, a well-known Russian lawyer, specializing on solicitation of  cyber crimes, told SC that planned changes will help to strenghthen the fight with cyber crimes in Russia.

Vladislav Vorotnikov comments: "In recent years the number of cyber-attacks and the amount of damage, associated with them, have significantly increased. The situation is also aggravated by the fact that the very nature of cyber-crimes has also changed, from individual attacks at the beginning of 2000s it has become a huge industry with multi-billion turnover. To date, Russia's criminal legislation has had serious gaps in this field, however it is now possibile that the situation will change over the coming years."

As an official spokesman of Anton Silyanov, Russia's Minister of Finance, concurred telling SC that the risks associated with threats in cyberspace are no less critical for business than other types of risks (such as legal or economic), which means that increasing criminal responsibility and penalties for cyber-attacks will be good news for the industry.

According to Russian Ministry of Finance statistics, last year up to 70 percent of Russian large companies were subjectected to cyber-attacks and these figures are expected to continue to grow for some years to come.

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