Most cybercrimes originate from Russia, Ukraine, and China, experts say

The USA and Nigeria round out the top 5,

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A relatively small number of countries house the greatest cybercriminal threats, a team of academic experts concluded in their study titled ‘Mapping the Global Geography of Cybercrime with the World Cybercrime Index.

The experts consulted 92 experts in cybercrime to identify which countries are the most significant sources of profit-driven cybercrime and to determine how impactful cybercrime is in these locations.

Published on 10 April 2024, this study focused on five key categories of financially motivated cybercriminal activities:

  1. Technical products/services (e.g. malware coding, botnet access)
  2. Attacks and extortion (e.g. DDoS attacks, ransomware)
  3. Data/identity theft (e.g. hacking, phishing)
  4. Scams (e.g. advance fee fraud, online auction fraud)
  5. Cashing out/money laundering (e.g. credit card fraud, money mules)

Experts were tasked with identifying the countries of origin for each type of cybercrime and assessing them based on criteria such as impact, professionalism, and technical expertise of cyber criminals. The research clarifies that state-based actors have been excluded, while the source of cybercrime has been defined as the ‘country where offenders are primarily based, rather than their nationality’. The authors decided to only include countries formally recognised by the UN.

The resulting WCI score, derived from these assessments, revealed Russia at the forefront with a score of 58.39, closely followed by Ukraine (36.44) and China (27.84). The USA (25.01) and Nigeria (21.28) rounded out the top 5, with the UK, India, North Korea, and Brazil also featuring prominently in the top 10.

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Credit: PLOS ONE

This project is a collaboration between the University of Oxford and the University of New South Wales, Australia, with funding from CRIMGOV, an EU-funded project. Federico Varese, a professor at Sciences Po, Paris, and a co-author of the study, highlighted the potential for future iterations of the WCI to delve deeper into the socioeconomic factors influencing cybercrime prevalence, such as education, internet penetration, GDP, and corruption levels.