Met X311de krochten van de Russische online onderwereld in

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Russische hackers zijn berucht in de wereld van de cybercrime. Zo blinken ze uit in de diefstal van en handel in creditcardgegevens. Le Temps duikt onder in de Russische onderwereld van het internet.

Whether an organized crime expert or a solitary con man, an intelligence services agent or the Kremlin’s cyber soldier, Russian hackers are often at the heart of Internet fantasies. An ambiguous and protean figure, the hacker has as many faces as Russia itself. The country, from which many of these nefarious crimes originate and where Edward Snowden remains in asylum, is both a nation of cyber censors and IT experts. Welcome to Russia’s Internet underworld.

The 28-year-old hacker I’m interviewing establishes the rules of the game. He won’t give his name — only his pseudonym, “X311″ — and won’t answer all of my questions. “If I reveal too much, it could go badly for me,” he says. A strong code of silence prevails in the Russian hacking world. It took me recommendations from about 10 mutual acquaintances for “X311″ to finally agree to speak to me.

After a long and perilous hunt, his conditions are finally mine. Our interview takes place online, in the middle of the night in Moscow, and on an Internet Relay Chat — one of many online communications protocols. Our exchanges are protected by the cryptography protocol Off-the-Record Messaging (OTR). This is the essential prerequisite to our conversation, and the token of his trust.

“X311″ writes in unusual but decent French. The hacker found refuge in France when his “personal situation became way too dangerous” for him to stay one more week in Russia, he says. He agrees to unveil some aspects of his country’s cybernetic underworld, only because he’s now joined “the white side of the force.” In the hacker community, people are clearly divided in five different color groups.

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    • Mehdi Atmani