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Good Question: Why Are So Many Hackers From Russia?

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- Russian hackers are being blamed for leaking medical information about Olympic athletes Serena Williams and Simone Biles.

They have also been responsible for hacking corporations and political groups.

A recent poll on a hacker-oriented website found that 82 percent of voters said Russia has the world's best hackers.

Only 5 percent said Americans were the best.

The reasons there are so many successful hackers in Russia have less to do with spite, and more to do with survival.

"It's not surprising," said John Carney of Carney Forensics. "There are cultural reasons, societal reasons, even economic reasons for this phenomenon."

Carney says Russians are known for their math and computer skills. And while they may make plenty of money working IT jobs in the U.S., some only make about $300 a month working for Russian companies.

Cyber Security
(credit: CBS)

"They are overeducated, and today there is unemployment and underemployment," Carney said.

But there is money to be had in hacking. Carney says criminals will pay big money for social security and credit card numbers from companies like Target and Home Depot. They will also pay top dollar to exploit an athlete's medical history.

"Hackers are collectors or aggregators, and then there are those [criminals] who exploit," he said.

But it is hard to bring a hacker to justice, even if they are caught, due to extradition laws.

"The laws are not harmonized, the cyber security laws. And that's progress we have to make as a society to better police this activity," Carney said.

He says the Russian Mafia will hire a lot of IT people to help them commit crimes. Some experts also believe that a faction of hackers is funded by the Russian government.

The best thing you can do to protect yourself is to keep your anti-malware, anti-exploit software and firewalls up to date.

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