Assessing the threats in the new "code war"

A new war is taking place online — and the former head of national security at the Justice Department says Russia is the biggest threat

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This week on 60 Minutes, correspondent Lesley Stahl reports that U.S. intelligence has called Russian cyber espionage one of the greatest threats to America, especially the growing partnership between Russian government spymasters and Russian cyber criminals.

Stahl spoke with John Carlin, the Assistant Attorney General for National Security during the Obama administration. In his book "Dawn of the Code War," Carlin writes that America is in a war that's occurring online.

"We're in a new world," Carlin told Stahl in the clip above. "And just like the Cold War, it may not be a theater of combat. But day in, day out, we're under attack."

Carlin pointed to four countries that are leading this new war: Russia, China, North Korea, and Iran. He told Stahl that, while China is a serious cyber threat, Chinese hackers work within our current world order. Russia hackers do not—and that's why he considers them the biggest threat.

"It's not just the state. It's not just the organized criminal problem coming out of Russia. It's the fact that the two work together. The state protects the crooks. The state tasks the crooks and uses them for state purposes," Carlin said.

How the U.S. caught on to hacker Bogachev

One of the most prolific of those cyber criminals is Evgeniy Bogachev, a Russian hacker on the FBI's most-wanted list for cyber criminals.

During the course of its investigation, the FBI enlisted the help of Michael Sandee, an analyst with the Dutch cyber security firm Fox-IT. Sandee examined Bogachev's computer server and found evidence that he might be more than just a cyber thief—he was also a Russian intelligence asset.

In the video above, Sandee tells Stahl that Bogachev's motivation had always been financial, but eventually, Sandee says, Bogachev began using search commands that seemed politically motivated.

"Ukraine actually popped up when the Ukraine crisis started to develop," Sandee said.

The FBI estimates that Bogachev's malicious software, known as GameOver Zeus, infected a network of about a million computers worldwide. The bureau is now offering a reward of up to $3 million for information leading to his arrest.

To watch Lesley Stahl's 60 Minutes report on Bogachev and other Russian cyber criminals, click here.

The videos above were edited by Richard Buddenhagen.