Net Effect

“In gaz we trust”: a fake Russian energy company facilitating cybercrime

Readers of this blog already know that “the spinternet” – the world of fake blogs and social networks created to give some visible legitimization to propaganda efforts by governments and corporations – is one of my favorite research subjects. Russians have practiced the art of political astoturfing most skillfully. But it turns out that the ...

Readers of this blog already know that “the spinternet” – the world of fake blogs and social networks created to give some visible legitimization to propaganda efforts by governments and corporations – is one of my favorite research subjects.

Russians have practiced the art of political astoturfing most skillfully. But it turns out that the “spinternet empire” has now expanded to embrace cybercrime as well. Most curiously, the evil masterminds behind it seem quite eager to capitalize on the growing European fears of Kremlin-sanctioned “gas terror” (as we all know, those fears get particularly acute in citizens of certain Central European nations during winter time).

How else to explain the very existence of a web-site belonging to a fake Russian gas company (with a funky name of GazTranzitStroyInfo) that relies on rogue hosting providers to serve so-called “scareware” to unsuspecting visitors (as usual, Dancho Danchev does an excellent job of dissecting the entire campaign)? In simple terms, visitors to the company’s web-site are redirected to other sites which offer them (in very dramatic and fear-inducing) terms to download rogue software (often at a fee) that will ensure their computer doesn’t blow up and stays secure forever (quite often, this is also the only way to make your computer functional again).

Well, I could only say that combined with the prospect of “gas terror”, the very term “scareware” – a well-established term used by the cybersecurity industry – acquires a whole new geopolitical meaning (interestingly enough, the fake company’s motto is “In Gaz We Trust“). I wonder how this squares with the viral YouTube threat performed by the Russian military choir.

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