Major data leak from Russian banks

The Russian black market is getting a lot of publicity at the moment in the Russian media. Why? Because of the latest data theft case – databases allegedly containing the personal details of upwards of 3 million individuals have been leaked from several major Russian banks, and the data is now being sold for between 2,000 – 4,000 roubles (around $76 – $150).

Of course, this is nothing new in any country – there have been lots of high profile reports about data leakage. And in a recent article I highlighted that databases containing data from the customs and passport authorities (among others) are freely available on the Russian black market.

What’s interesting is the media fuss, and the effect it might have on data security. The databases contain information about clients of Russian banks who’ve been refused credit, and those who’ve defaulted, either partially or fully, on their payments. Some journalists have questioned why such data would be of use to criminals. As credit applications in Russia will include personal data like name, address, and passport number, I don’t think this is such a hard question to answer. Similar cases of data theft in the past have led to a wave of scams – one option would be to buy the database, call a creditor and say that you’re calling from the bank to collect the debt.

Even though data theft is relatively common in Russia, the media attention might raise public awareness about data security. The case will certainly be a blow to the Russian public’s fragile confidence in the banking sector, and it may take a while for the dust to settle. But let’s hope that while it’s settling law enforcement agencies will take a long hard look at current cybercrime legislation. And let’s also hope that the banking industry will consider making a standard security policy mandatory.

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