I know that this group sounds innocuous enough, but in fact the RBN is a multi-faceted cybercrime organization that has generated revenues of up to $150,000,000 in one year through its machinations. Like a modern day cyber-Mafia, they engage in the use of free downloads of bogus anti-spyware or anti-malware programs. These free downloads immediately notify the user of further bogus active threats which can only be corrected by purchasing more extensive versions. (I know, this is a scam and illegal, but hardly justifies my dire warnings, but read on.)
In addition to this fairly straight forward scam, this group is singled out as one of the worst at hosting sites participating in spamming, child pornography, and other cyber crimes. Providing secure web hosting for the sites of many of the worst offenders, they provide an environment where such crimes can thrive. Experts at covering their tracks and at hiding their own financial dealings, this group operates all but anonymously except to those in the cyber world. They also act as a "cyber-murder for hire" organization, targeting businesses and even countries by performing "denial of service attacks"; and to go with it, a protection racket selling protection against their own nefarious operations.
Now I know that we are all concerned with the recent situation in Georgia, and the incursion of the Russian military. Any attack on a country attempting to operate under a democracy (and as one of America's few allies) should be of great concern to us. With access to oil revenues that Russia has these days and a resurgence of many of the old hard-liners in positions of power, I fear that we may see even more of this coming. I fear that this may not be the greatest threat that this country presents however. The Russian government has always had a strong relationship with it's own criminal element. It has used that partnership to generate hard currency, perpetrate the government's agenda, and subvert Russia's enemies. It appears that this is the case with the RBN as well.
Cyber crime is an attack that crosses no borders, and that no distance or geography can protect us from however. It's perpetrators can sit safely behind their own borders and attack us from a position of complete safety. As a consequence, it may present an even greater threat in the long run as society comes to rely on the Internet for more of its every day operation. We need all be on our guard against such an attack on our freedom if our way of life is to survive.