25% of US hackers work with the US government

By on June 7, 2011, 12:00 PM

The FBI and Secret Service have successfully infiltrated the underground world of computer hackers in the US: 25 percent are secretly informing the government about their peers for fear of a long prison sentence. In fact, the community is riddled with paranoia and mistrust as it is not clear who is part of this "army of informants."

The estimate comes from Eric Corley, who publishes the hacker quarterly 2600. "Owing to the harsh penalties involved and the relative inexperience with the law that many hackers have, they are rather susceptible to intimidation," Corley told the Guardian.

Even popular illegal forums used by cyber criminals as marketplaces for stolen identities and credit card numbers are sometimes run by hacker turncoats acting as FBI moles. It's not just hackers though: undercover FBI agents sometimes pose as hackers specializing in ID theft and take over the management of crime forums so they can gather intelligence and put criminals behind bars.

This is one of the US government's strategy in fighting the anarchistic co-operatives known as "hacktivists" that have launched several high-profile cyber-attacks in recent months designed to make a statement. Two of the most popular groups that have been all over the news are Anonymous and LulzSec.

Last month, the US disclosed its International Strategy for Cyberspace. The document revealed the US government could respond to cyber-attacks with military force, especially if someone were to pull off a serious cyberspace hack against the US, its allies, its partners, or in a way to threaten its interests.

Informants are one thing, but I'm wondering how many of these hackers have been recruited by the FBI or the Secret Service. That's a statistic we'll probably never know.

User Comments: 13

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TomSEA TomSEA, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

"Informants are one thing, but I'm wondering how many of these hackers have been recruited by the FBI or the Secret Service." There's no doubt there have been. And many more by the CIA to assist with tracking/hacking terrorist websites.

fluffykitten fluffykitten said:

susceptible to intimidation - all those informants that go and tell on the ones that help them, give up everything, you know the smart ones know about how 90% of the members will do this whatever the skill set may be, learn some ethics and not be so scared.

Guest said:

I have said for a long time that when the political and business interests are impacted by

hackers, those interests will respond.

When freedom becomes license and the power structures are threatened, then repression follows.

Guest said:

as far as im concerned, if the government tricks a hacker who makes a living STEALING credit card information and Identities, then more power to them.

Trillionsin Trillionsin said:

it's just the Chinese making us think it's us.

Guest said:

If you want to see why this is just look at the Personal's section of 2600 Magazine...

Win7Dev said:

The one thing that is left out of this statistic is the really advanced group of hackers. The ones that leave no trace, and don't get caught. How do they even know the really good ones exist unless they are careless enough to leave a trail. Unless the FBI and secret service are examining hard disks are a low level, your not going to find anything left behind by a decent hacker. So... How would they know if they really had 25% of the hackers working for the government? Good story, but somewhat misleading stats.

Tanstar said:

Sounds smart to me.

treetops treetops said:

Thats not what pete said, pete has already ratted you out! Oh I better tell you everything then copper....

Guest said:

Hackers are like drug dealers. You never know which ones have been busted and are operating with the consent of the law. You just have to think the bigger transaction you make the greater is the chance you are going to be compromised. A good rule to follow is that 100% of the people who get busted will rat when faced with the prospect of sharing a cell with 'Bubba.'

gobbybobby said:


The US government have clearly hacked www.techspot.com and posted this article under Emil Protalinski name.

Think about it!

petert said:

I guess the article refers to crackers. Before you start bitching about the sense of the word "hacker" I want to say that you should not name a cracker other than thief. Once upon of time, to be named hacker was an honour. Today hacker equals criminal or 15 years old that wanna be cool.

Most of the so called "hackers" are in fact "script-kiddies" who probably tried some trick just once and just for the sake of being cool and got busted since they are after all ******. It is normal for them to turn in other ******.

Guest said:

The only hacker I knew in college was also a paid informant. I saw his paychecks - from some company no one had ever heard of. It was either be a paid informant or go to jail. Easy choice for him, but it freaked him out, he really didnt get into it. It seemed to him, if he was caught doing his masters bidding, no one was going to show up to bail him out.

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