The Russian police's cybercrime division has warned that Russian hackers are the best in the world.
"Everyone knows that Russians are good at maths," said Lieutenant General Boris Miroshnikov of the division known as Department K. "Our software writers are the best in the world, that's why our hackers are the best in the world."
Speaking at the e-Crime Congress in London on Tuesday, Miroshnikov said that the casual teenage hackers of the past developed their techniques as they grew older.
"It used to be naughty boys (doing this)," he said. "But now they've grown up. They realize if you are clever at something then you should use it to earn a living. They are hacking to get rich and uniting over networks."
Miroshnikov called for unified international laws for Internet crime that would make it easier for the police to carry out arrests and charges around the world.
Britain's National Hi-Tech Crime Unit said Tuesday that cybercrime costs British firms 2.4 billion pounds ($4.5 billion) last year as consequence of online crime last year. Miroshnikov said this was alarming, but that the international police effort was starting to take effect.
"The statistics are really very worrying," he said. "If you look at 2001, 2002 and 2003, computer crime was doubling. It's only this year that we've started to hold back the growth. That's because we've worked so hard.
"When governments get (ISPs), law enforcement, public and private sector cooperating, then and only then will we be able to succeed in holding back this type of crime."
Dan Ilett of ZDNet UK reported from London.