Tuesday, December 22, 2020

Supposedly Protected Data in Russia Increasingly Up for Sale, New Study Finds

Paul Goble

            Staunton, December 20 – The fallout of the Navalny poisoning story includes something few might have expected. It showed that “the intelligence services of any country need not have agent networks in Russia” to obtain secrets because those in Russia with access to it are increasingly willing to sell it, a journalistic investigation concludes.

            Daily Storm journalist Daniil Belovodyev says that in 2017, experts estimated the sale of such classified material as amounting to “no less than 3.3 billion rubles” (48 million US dollars) but observers suggested that the real figure was far higher because Moscow doesn’t like to report this (dailystorm.ru/rassledovaniya/navalnyy-menyaet-rynok-probiva-siloviki-nachali-ohotu-za-temi-kto-slil-dannye-predpolagaemyh-sotrudnikov-fsb).

            Now, the journalist says, the number is undoubtedly much higher and involves increasingly sensitive information as bank tellers or others with access to personal data seek to profit from what they know by selling it. The market has grown because salaries are low, risk of punishment is low, and a mentality that suggests there is nothing wrong with doing this.

            Much of the data in the recent reports about the Navalny case, including names, telephone numbers and flight manifests, was obtained for free or at lost cost, but there is some indication that other data, more sensitive, may have been sold as well and that now the Kremlin is finally ready to crack down on those involved, although whether it will succeed is an open question.

            In his 3500-word article, Belvodyev provides details that support the conclusion of Madrid-based Russian scholar Maksim Mironov that the investigation of Navalny’s poisoning did not require the intervention of foreign intelligence agencies but could have been done by anyone for “several thousand dollars” (windowoneurasia2.blogspot.com/2020/12/intelligence-services-overrated.html).

            “In our material,” however, the Daily Storm journalist continues, “we did not try to check the accuracy of the data,” only how easy it was for private investigators to obtain it. “We wanted to show that there is a serious problem in Russia – an enormous and easily accessible market for such data and that the defenses now in place are “completely rotten.”

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