Russia ranked top of global cybercrime index in new study

Russia, Ukraine and China have been named as the world’s cybercrime hotspots in a new study ranking the most significant sources of cybercrime threats.

The World Cybercrime Index has been published in journal Plos One following three years of research by academics from the University of Oxford and the University of New South Wales (UNSW) Canberra.

The index said Russia housed the greatest cybercrime threat, followed by Ukraine, China, the US and Nigeria. The UK was eighth on the list.

The rankings were based on data gathered by the researchers, which saw them survey almost 100 cybercrime experts from around the world, and asked each to identify the most significant sources of five major types of cybercrime, ranking countries according to the impact, professionalism and technical skill of its criminals.

The study’s co-author, Dr Miranda Bruce, said the research would enable cybersecurity agencies to focus on key hubs of cybercrime, directing funds and focus more effectively.

“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,” she said.

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

“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.”

Fellow co-author associate professor Jonathan Lusthaus said the index could help shine a light on what is often difficult to trace activity.

“Due to the illicit and anonymous nature of their activities, cybercriminals cannot be easily accessed or reliably surveyed. They are actively hiding,” he said.

“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.”

The researchers said they hope to expand the study to examine whether different national characteristics such as education rates, GDP or levels of corruption impact the amount of cybercrime emerging from a country.