It is well known that much (if not most) of major cyber crime originates in Russia (as well as Ukraine and China though the Chinese tend to be more or less the state players or into corporate espionage these days). Russian hackers, or better yet, the Russian cyber syndicate, is quite adept at financial data theft (such as credit card theft and financial identity exploitation) and operate a large number of carder sites (or dump sites on which stolen financial database data is posted and sold to other nefarious individuals on the binary black market).
One such carder site is *http://www.blackstuff.net (shown here merely as one example of many on the Net and one of only a few when one also considers the Dark Net as well). Take a quick peek if you like just to get an idea of how identity and financial theft works on this scale. However, when visiting such sites ensure that you have adequate security controls and a good AV placed on your system. And by no means do too much "clicking" on these sites. Be aware as well that your IP address may be logged by any interested authorities monitoring the site. *This is not to say that this particular site is a Russian endeavor as a simply whois query will show that the domain is registered in Australia and hosted in Arizona, USA. No doubt the provided registrant|hosting|contact information is fictitious and such cyber criminals are clever and have many ways to ensure their anonymity.
An interesting caveat about the criminals that use such sites and services to obtain pilfered information... Would you believe that there are actually sites dedicated to reviewing the carder sites (which are legitimate and which are "rippers" or scams)? One such site is http://carding-forums.blogspot.com/2013/10/list-of-carding-scammers-and-rippers.html.
Malicious hackers and cyber criminals collect more than just financial data but, as well, they like to harvest credentials (usernames, passwords, tokens, pin numbers, etc.). Clearly, this facilitates obtaining personal identifying information and provides an expedited means to, as the end goal, obtaining financial information such as banking information, credit card numbers, account numbers, etc.
One such example of this is the major Gmail hack as reported by Anonymous on one of their news sites back in September of 2014 (http://anonhq.com/5-million-gmail-accounts-hacked-leaked-publicly/). Reportedly, over 5 million Gmail usernames and passwords (around 60% of registered users) were harvested and leaked via the Web onto a Russian forum. Though the leak was confirmed by a security team (though the extent of the breach and accuracy of information leaked debated) Google denied that the breach occurred on any of its systems or servers but suggested that the information came from phishing and other sources.
You can check to see if your e-mail credentials were harvested here.
The point here is--none of your data is sacred or safe. Take measures to protect it (stay tuned for more information on how to set up and configure secure, PGP encrypted e-mail) or, if you insist on using Gmail or any other free provider (something which I recommend against due to major privacy concerns) on how to configure two-factor authentication for increased security.
There are some disturbing ironies at work in the former Soviet Union in terms of cyberspace. We have already seen that Russia is home to arguably the largest cyber syndicate at work today and that many of the most notorious hacks both current and past have had their roots on Russian keyboards. Yet Russia is increasingly censoring the Internet and just what its citizens can access via the Web. The Russian government blocks information not deemed good for the general citizenship.
Stricter regulations (read: crackdown) were put into place as soon as Putin returned to office in 2012. Of particular interest to Putin are social media, bloggers, and anonymizing networks such as Tor and VPNs. For example, there are numerous restrictions placed on what a blogger can and cannot say, e.g., may not use profane language, cannot criticize the government or its officials, can make no false claims, etc. Bloggers are being registered and monitored. Penalties are hefty for violations.
As for corporations that do business online in Russia, they must store 6 months of data on Russian servers to operate in the country and this refers to all user data, not limited general information. Failure to comply results in large fines and perhaps being blocked online with no further access to the Russian market.
Because of the aforementioned restrictions, the tech savvy general public is increasingly turning to networks such as Tor and VPNs to circumvent information and site blocks placed by the government. An Anonymous News brief (http://anonhq.com/150000-russian-citizens-use-tor-network/) documented 150,000 current Tor users in Russia with roughly 25% of the Internet-accessing public using a VPN. Putin, however, is opposed to such technologies and has even gone so far as to offer a reward ($110,000) to any individual who can crack Tor's encryption scheme and calling such networks (the Internet as a whole even) a CIA ploy (http://www.ibtimes.com/russian-internet-censorship-social-media-crackdown-make-it-easy-putin-stay-popular-1651078).
A systems analyst by profession and a curious polymath by birth, I research and write on a variety of topics.