Saturday, July 31, 2010

Russian hackers

Why do so many Russian's seem to be hackers? Or are really good at computers?
Asked by KaiWen, China

Naturally , I am against generalization...It will be a way too ambitious to claim that a lot of Russians are hackers.

But I understand your question and must say that recent events did create a certain image of advanced computer users coming from the territory of Russian Federation. Many of them caused a lot of sleepless nights to the IT security departments of various Western corporations.


"Around 1980, when the news media noticed hackers, they determined real hacking as: the security breaking which some hackers occasionally did. They ignored all the rest of hacking, and used the term "breaking security", no more no less. Since that the media have spread that definition, disregarding our attempts to correct them. As a result, most people have a false idea of what we hackers actually do and what we think.
You can help correct the misunderstanding simply by making a distinction between security breaking and hacking—by using the term "cracking" instead of security breaking. The people who do it are "crackers". Some of them may also be hackers, just as some of them may be chess players or golfers; most of them are not...."
Lets see who is TOVARISCH hacker? ))))))

It is almost impossible to say when it all started, but one of Russian IT forum gave a colorful description of a reason why Russians computer specialists often associated with trouble among the other members of Internet community.

"Soon after the shoot of USSR those who got a foreign software, had neither documentation nor any technical support to count on. So that was the moment when Russian system administrators were forced to find their way around, more precisely to write own patches there where in general it was almost impossible.

Therefore, at the beginning of 90th many Western companies loved to hire Russians /or Soviet computer specialists - as where the Western colleagues would have spent hours on the phone with IT support, Russians would spit and write his own patch.

Many of such cases, by the way, then became a standard de facto. "

Russian hackers deserved a special attention of US security services when in 2009 the US Government reported a series of hacking attacks (remember Citi group case), as well as the theft of more than $9 million from systems belonging to the Royal Bank of Scotland.

The threats forced US President Barack Obama to announce that defense against Internet attacks became a ''national security priority''.

As Fox news reported at the time, that the main sources of danger were
"Identity theft, social networking, and modifying commercial software" However, according to Amit Yoran, a former cybersecurity chief at the Department of Homeland Security, "the combining all 3 methods raised the attack method to a new level, which have never been seen before"
Fair enough BBC quoted the vision of the problem by famous creator of computer anti- virus program Mr.Kaspersky "Russian attacks look more professional. The malware and design are more complicated and more technical. I think it's thanks to Russia's technical education. Its graduates are probably the best."


Well, known fact that any IT specialist will be on the job market the most demanded no wonder that those who get IT diplomas are the first ones to get a well paid job offer. So 90 % of graduates do end up in the business. Of which kind... to be confirmed ))))
Still there is no reason to be paranoiac and it will be incorrect to say that Russian hackers are prepared by Russian colleges. (In fact, Russian colleges have been highly criticized recently for not preparing well qualified modern IT personnel ))))

Recent studies show that the job difficulty of new IT colleges graduates is not really compensated by the proposed official salary.
Those who speak English and able to work with English language technical documentation in average earn per month in Moscow up to RUB 50 000 ($1 680), in Saint Petersburg RUB 40 000 ($1 345) , in Novosibirsk up to RUB 30 000 ($1000)

But if you take into consideration that the IT
engineering is mainly a man's world (92%), please also consider that 78% are under 30 years old. Still only 49% of IT have graduated with such diploma.

And here comes the most interesting part...........according to the polls of independent experts 33% of IT specialists learn from books when they want to upgrade their level of knowledge. Other 20% of Russian IT specialists just count on their own capacity to learn from own experience and mistakes.
(Of cause it will be immoral to prize the people who break into somebody's personal security but who in the modern world will object that Necessity is the mother of Invention. Besides, would that be only Russian hackers who want to get a big check at the end of the month.))))

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Russian war allies: General Winter & General Hunger

I read a Russian story once that was used as a metaphor concerning Russian history. The war with France, to be exact.
The story spoke of General Hunger and General Winter, who met and spoke, and realized that although both had great power and control over the people of the land, neither could survive or have any effect without the other. I was wondering if you knew of this story? If you can, could you please tell me the name of it and the meaning of the story?

Asked by

Darryl Tonks, UK
Dear Darrel, I don't know the story you are talking about as there are several ones. Frankly, I am not sure they are Russian invention. These metaphoric heroes are often mentioned when one is talking about the war on Russian territory. However, even though they seem to be pure epic invention there had some historical base.


The victory in the Patriotic War of 1812 (Invasion of Napoleon's army in Russia) became the subject of many Russian poems, opera's and novels created in XIX century (remember War & Peace of Mr. Tolstoy for example))))

Indeed Russians were proud of their victory over Napoleon's army but it was Denis Davydov (the hero of this war) who for the first time claimed that this victory was much helped by The General Moroz (the General Winter) . Some modern historians object the cold weather axiom of 1812, but this myth was so attractive…

But historians have no live evidence when the supporters of the Russian winter horror story have a plenty of it.
Taking over burned to ashes Moscow in September Napoleon Army has faced sabotage of few local people who has not fled Russian capital. Army catering & logistics soon began having food delivery problems as many peasants converted into partisans and fled their villages together with the domestic animals.

Those regimens who were in French Army avant-guard often burned down unruly villages on its way, thus leaving the rest of the Army without provisions. The situation has worsened as the winter approached.


Soon as is mentioned in military studies, the main body of Napoleon's Grande Armée, initially at least 378,000 strong, "diminished by half during the first eight weeks of his invasion, before the major battle of the campaign. This decrease was partly due to garrisoning supply centers, but disease, desertions, and casualties sustained in various minor actions caused thousands of losses.

It was a humiliation for French Grande Armee to admit that their strategy was not adopted to Russia. Distance, people, traditions were all against them.
The sequels were Napoleon's uncontested and self-defeating occupation of Moscow and his humiliating retreat, which began on 19 October, before the first severe frosts later that month and the first snow on 5 November 1812"

“Almost entire cavalry marches on foot, less than 1/5 of the initial regiment and 100 of horses”, wrote unknown ex-Russian front French soldier in his memories.“Frenchmen perished more from hunger than exhaustion, disorder, robberies and loss of any discipline ”, testifies General Kreyts.

Hunger suddenly became catastrophic. Soon even horse meat was a luxury. This horrible period was described in the memories of Russian General Kreyts who in Moscow suburbs, marching with his regiment, reported hearing weird noises in the forest. After exploring the forest, his people saw French soldiers cutting & eating human meat.

Commander-in-chief of Russian Army General Mikhail Kutuzov wrote to his wife on October 28, 1812:Yesterday we found in the forest two French soldiers, who fried and eat their third comrade”.


So would it be correct to say that General Hunger was much stronger then General Winter? Finally, one or both rapidly helped to destroy French army of 1812.

Was it a good lesson for war strategy class?...Apparently not, 130 years later in Stalingrad another strong European army tried to test loyal Russian Army Allies: general Winter & General Hunger.