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25% of US Hackers Are FBI/CIA Informers

Soulskill posted more than 3 years ago | from the trading-hats dept.

Crime 185

An anonymous reader writes "The Guardian reports that the FBI and CIA have 'persuaded' up to 25% of US hackers to 'work' for them. 'In some cases, popular illegal forums used by cyber criminals as marketplaces for stolen identities and credit card numbers have been run by hacker turncoats acting as FBI moles. In others, undercover FBI agents posing as "carders" – hackers specialising in ID theft – have themselves taken over the management of crime forums, using the intelligence gathered to put dozens of people behind bars. ... The best-known example of the phenomenon is Adrian Lamo, a convicted hacker who turned informant on Bradley Manning, who is suspected of passing secret documents to WikiLeaks.' What implications does this hold for privacy? Or is it just good work by the authorities?" As you may have guessed, the estimate appears to be based only on the number of black hats, rather than all hackers.

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Option 2 (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36356020)

It is good work by the authorities.

Re:Option 2 (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36356078)

Infiltration and catching the criminals in the act is very good work by the authorities.

Beats kicking down the doors of wrong houses and shooting little old ladies any day of the week.

Re:Option 2 (4, Insightful)

gnick (1211984) | more than 3 years ago | (#36356092)

It's effective work by the authorities. However, if people under FBI or CIA are actively encouraging or facilitating illegal activities that may not have happened otherwise, I may have some heavy objections as to whether it's "good" work.

I have similar concerns (2, Interesting)

Presto Vivace (882157) | more than 3 years ago | (#36356338)

does the FBI have adequate control over its hacker informants? For example, an FBI informer riding in the car that carried the killer of Viola Liuzzo [wikipedia.org] . And who else is running hacker informants?

the control is work for us or go to a pound me in (1)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | more than 3 years ago | (#36356814)

the control is work for us or go to a pound me in ass prison and lose the right to use any kind system that is even in a little way like a pc.

Re:I have similar concerns (2, Informative)

icebike (68054) | more than 3 years ago | (#36357588)

There is no such thing as control over an informant. If they had control over them they would call them "Agents".

Your implied question here is: should the FBI recruit any informants, and by extension, take any information from someone not totally under their control.

I don't think that any of us want to live in a society where the police had enough manpower that input from the common man in the street was totally useless to the police. Therefore the question itself poses a veiled accusation.

Clearly police informants in general usually get something in return for their services, some may be altruistic (a desire to clean up their neighborhood), but there are a lot of small time crooks are simply not worth the time and effort, especially when you can twist their arm a bit and get information in exchange for them being over looked for a while.

Where murders are undertaken by criminal organization, informants deeply entrenched in the organization are hardly in a position to hold up a hand and say, look guys, I don't think we should to this because it would be wrong...

Re:Option 2 (5, Funny)

tverbeek (457094) | more than 3 years ago | (#36356146)

It's getting to the point these days where you just aren't sure which criminals you can trust.

Re:Option 2 (3, Insightful)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 3 years ago | (#36356272)

I call shenanigans.

There is simply no way this is anything CLOSE to accurate. This is pure FUD and self-promotion. First, they don't have accurate stats on how many ID theft operators there are (if they knew who was doing the stealing, they'd be able to close them down, right?), so this is just a "guestimate" to make people who deal with bulk operators worried that they might be dealing with a "dishonest crook", and to justify their budgets.

Pitifully transparent.

pure FUD and self-promotion (2)

Presto Vivace (882157) | more than 3 years ago | (#36356364)

and I have to say, very effective FUD and self-promotion.

Re:Option 2 (2)

wiedzmin (1269816) | more than 3 years ago | (#36356398)

It should say 25% of known hackers, which would be a more believable/accurate statement.

Re:Option 2 (3, Funny)

StikyPad (445176) | more than 3 years ago | (#36356566)

To put that in perspective, here's the current FBI Agent breakdown:

0% of known men
0% of known women
25% of known hackers
100% of known little girls.

Re:Option 2 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36357394)

100% of known little girls.

I thought those were all Chris Hansen?

Re:Option 2 (3, Insightful)

CODiNE (27417) | more than 3 years ago | (#36356676)

What about ThinThread and other domestic surveillance programs? We know they're catching all US traffic at the ISP level. So if you're hacking computers in the US they can trace you back to the plug at the wall, from there they know you're either the person paying for the connection or someone leeching off his Wifi. A little detective work and they know if you live on the same block or if you're a roving wifi hacker who lives somewhere in downtown Portland.

Now how many non-US governments are doing the same thing and sharing this data with them? They already know who you are and what you're downloading, they simply don't have a reason to bust you right now.

So yeah, I bet they do have a pretty good estimate of the number of currently active hackers at least in the US. There's a profile on each one, and they know about zero-day attacks before anyone else does. It's just on the down-low since it's illegal. Do something big enough and they'll find a way to use it against you.

Re:Option 2 (3, Insightful)

Luckyo (1726890) | more than 3 years ago | (#36357194)

The thing that makes me actually partially believe them is the remarkable efficiency of department of homeland security's incredible ability to recruit "neighbourhood spies".
The numbers may be inflated, but make no mistake - authorities have noted just how efficient it is to essentially make a lot of small people into informants on minimal pay. Stalin would have had a major hard-on if he saw what they did in the States, he tried really hard to make the system in USSR to be similar, but it failed because of lack of ability to process large amounts of data at rapid pace.

We have that thanks to computerization and networking, and USA authorities can proudly state that they already have more spies then USSR spying on their own people. I really don't see why lessons from that can't flow into even more valuable hacker world, where informants are so important. Hell, case Manning makes for a great example - the #1 enemy of intelligence machine wasn't caught because of awesome hardware, awesome software or great investigation work. He was caught because someone Manning viewed as a friend and a "comrade in arms" so to speak was actually a snitch who fingered him.

And it's the importance of having snitches like that anywhere you can have them, and making sure that even if you don't have a snitch in a particular organisation, they THINK you do is the proven, effective control maintenance strategy for authorities. So yes, we can doubt the exact number, but the argument that a very large portion of US hackers are snitches is beyond reasonable doubt.

And if you ever doubt that snitches are the most important part of intelligence, look at case Bin Laden. Hunted with best equipment and millions of men for years, no luck. And in the end, the one who killed him wasn't a bunch of SEALs, or an advanced helicopter. It was some pakistani guy who was a snitch and fingered him. And funnily enough, to show just how well our media is penetrated by intelligence, in between massive dick waving about SEALs, helicopters and other thing that really didn't matter in the end, we didn't hear a word about the one thing that really did matter - THE SNITCH.

Re:Option 2 (1)

Mikkeles (698461) | more than 3 years ago | (#36356550)

I'd prefer stats on the proportion of hi-tek(TM) identity thefts prevented or prosecuted compared to the total.

It seems to be having as much effect as the War On Drugs(TM).

In Soviet Russia (0)

tripleevenfall (1990004) | more than 3 years ago | (#36356042)

Informer informs on YOU!

Re:In Soviet Russia (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36356136)

Let's see...

  • suppression of free speech: check!
  • suppression of privacy: check!
  • suppression of personal freedoms: check!
  • governmental secret, indiscriminate spying on own citizens: check!
  • governmental ability to indefinitely incarcerate any person without charge: check!

and now: increasingly numerous snitches and informants: check.

nope, not looking good at all

Re:In Soviet Russia (0)

tripleevenfall (1990004) | more than 3 years ago | (#36356172)

Free speech suppresses: YOU!
Privacy suppresses: YOU!
Personal freedoms suppress: YOU!
Governmental secret, indiscriminate spying on: YOU!
Governmental indefinitely incarcerates: YOU!
Increasingly numerous snitches and informants snitch on: YOU!

Re:In Soviet Russia (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36356210)

Yes, because LEAs never, ever conducted undercover investigations or made informants out of criminals (eg, in Mafia cases) until nowadays, and the fact that they do so is symptomatic of dawning fascism, right?

Idiot.

Re:In Soviet Russia (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36357292)

Booticker.

PsyOps (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36356050)

Paranoid yet?

Re:PsyOps (3, Interesting)

Samantha Wright (1324923) | more than 3 years ago | (#36356374)

Agreed. This could just as easily be a false leak. It would be ridiculous to take these statements at face-value, given that misinformation is one of the CIA's strongest suits.

Re:PsyOps (1)

perpenso (1613749) | more than 3 years ago | (#36356802)

This could just as easily be a false leak. It would be ridiculous to take these statements at face-value, given that misinformation is one of the CIA's strongest suits.

That is exactly the reaction they hoped for among the more tech savvy. ;-)

What % are under 18? (1)

lemur3 (997863) | more than 3 years ago | (#36356052)

I want to know how many of these CIA 'hackers' aren't adults.

surely there is a whiz kid out there just waiting for a movie to be made......

first! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36356054)

first! I posted first! Whooohoooo!

Re:first! (1)

creat3d (1489345) | more than 3 years ago | (#36356130)

I love how none of these first post fuckers ever manage to actually be first.

Real hackers are like ninjas (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36356062)

There's one behind you right now.

In other news (5, Insightful)

Dyinobal (1427207) | more than 3 years ago | (#36356102)

In other news 47% of all news articles are speculative bullshit with no grounding in reality. See we can all make up numbers.

Re:In other news (1)

cyberstealth1024 (860459) | more than 3 years ago | (#36356292)

In other news 47% [citation needed] of all news articles are speculative bullshit with no grounding in reality. See we can all make up numbers.

Re:In other news (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36356342)

In other news 47% [1] of all news articles are speculative bullshit with no grounding in reality. See we can all make up numbers.

1. "We can invent references, too, and nobody will bother to check them." - Gettysburg Address, 1812.

Re:In other news (1)

Artifakt (700173) | more than 3 years ago | (#36356644)

But you didn't do it in official Wikipedia blue ... Does that still count?

Re:In other news (1)

cyberstealth1024 (860459) | more than 3 years ago | (#36356816)

It's hard to make the superscript + blue as seen in wikipedia. the html markup <sup style="color:#0000ff">[1]</sup> doesn't work in slashdot

Re:In other news (2)

cyberstealth1024 (860459) | more than 3 years ago | (#36356394)

In other news 47% [slashdot.org] of all news articles are speculative bullshit with no grounding in reality. See we can all make up numbers.

There, Dyinobal....I fixed it for you. We can fabricate numbers as long as we want and have it sound legit as long as we make a wikipedia-style reference See xkcd #906 [xkcd.com] for details.

Re:In other news (2)

Raenex (947668) | more than 3 years ago | (#36356608)

Well here's the citation for the Guardian article: "So ubiquitous has the FBI informant network become that Eric Corley, who publishes the hacker quarterly, 2600, has estimated that 25% of hackers in the US may have been recruited by the federal authorities to be their eyes and ears."

Wow, I'm convinced. Clearly this "fact" needs to be shouted out in headlines for "news" articles around the world, along with inflammatory references to Adrian Lamo.

Lamo, by the way, denies being a pre-existing informant and says instead he was just following his conscience (which is entirely plausible, given the scope of the leak). If you want to talk about informants, a much better example would have been Albert Gonzalez [wikipedia.org] .

Re:In other news (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36356826)

And in other news, 90% of all FBI hackers who were formerly black-hats, despise the FBI for forcing them to work for the enemy, and have taken the role of a mole, fucking up the FBI from the inside, while hiding the work of his outside friends.

I'd rather die than working for the biggest criminal terrorist and social hacking organization on the planet, so I'd definitely do it.

Re:In other news (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36357676)

Obviously, you'e never heard of Sturgeon's Law [wikipedia.org] .

how do they know? (4, Insightful)

hawguy (1600213) | more than 3 years ago | (#36356122)

They say there are vast, anonymous networks of hackers, yet somehow they know they they've gotten 25% of them to work for the FBI? How do you calculate 25% of an unknown number? Or is there some Hacker registry at 2600 magazine that I'm not aware of (not being a hacker myself, I didn't get an invitation to join).

Re:how do they know? (1)

blueg3 (192743) | more than 3 years ago | (#36356636)

While your complaint is legitimate, there's nothing inherently uncountable in a vast, anonymous group. Consider a group where (a) there are lots of members (b) you don't know the real identities of any of those members (c) you do have a complete listing of the fake identities of all of the members. It's vast, anonymous, and countable.

Re:how do they know? (1)

hawguy (1600213) | more than 3 years ago | (#36357122)

While your complaint is legitimate, there's nothing inherently uncountable in a vast, anonymous group. Consider a group where (a) there are lots of members (b) you don't know the real identities of any of those members (c) you do have a complete listing of the fake identities of all of the members. It's vast, anonymous, and countable.

I have over a dozen online usernames and I'm not even trying to hide my identity, but these anonymous "superhackers" somehow decided to identify themselves with a single unique identifier?

There's very tenuous anonymity behind a unique identifier.

Re:how do they know? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36356666)

[quote]
How do you calculate 25% of an unknown number?
[/quote]

Some sort of statistical analysis. Say I have some set, A. I want to know what percentage of A has some characteristic, and thus belongs to set B (itself a subset of A). If I take a large enough sample from A and find out if they are members of B, then I have a pretty good indication of what percentage of members of A are also members of B. I don't need to know the overall size of set A. It's completely irrelevant. See:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Margin_of_error#Calculations_assuming_random_sampling

Re:how do they know? (1)

hawguy (1600213) | more than 3 years ago | (#36357128)

But I think the problem is that you can't identify the set of "all hackers" as "set A".

They are purposely trying to be invisible and hard to identify.

Re:how do they know? (2)

Yvanhoe (564877) | more than 3 years ago | (#36356672)

I think it means 25% of the hackers they have contacted, which doesn't seem overwhelming. 25% of people ceding to legal blackmailing doesn't seem such a high proportion to me...

Re:how do they know? (1)

tnk1 (899206) | more than 3 years ago | (#36356740)

They probably don't know the actual numbers, but they would have good records on reported ID thefts. Given their investigative capabilities, they can probably determine to a certain amount of error how many hackers would be capable of 'x' amount of ID theft.

Additionally, they may have some very good individual profiles of many hackers out there, they just may not be able to link an actual identity to that presence yet. I mean, they can generally tell a lot about serial killers by their individual actions, even if they haven't caught them or identified them. A hacker or hacking group will probably leave their own sort of "fingerprints" by working in a certain way and that will set them apart as an individual, albeit one without a known identity.

Re:how do they know? (1)

GrumblyStuff (870046) | more than 3 years ago | (#36356870)

x/4=number of FBI hackers

Duh.

curious how (1)

nimbius (983462) | more than 3 years ago | (#36356152)

this article comes almost immediately after a report on chinese hackers and their nefarious actions against google.

red pill or the blue pill (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36356158)

Considering the choices, work for us or go to jail/we'll make your life miserable, it's obvious that most choose to join.

The real question is how much are they being paid? Once you step over into the dark side, there's no turning back.
You might as well make the best and the most of it.

always wondered why IRC was allowed (1)

decora (1710862) | more than 3 years ago | (#36356162)

to stay afloat, full of warez, script kiddies, child pornographers, etc etc etc.

Re:always wondered why IRC was allowed (2)

decipher_saint (72686) | more than 3 years ago | (#36356254)

It's not the tool, it's the people who use it.

Re:always wondered why IRC was allowed (1)

Ziekheid (1427027) | more than 3 years ago | (#36356688)

I'm not entirely sure if you're being serious, if you aren't disregard this post but I feel the need to explain some things anyway.
The largest IRC network (QuakeNet) is a gaming related network with about 180.000 users online at all times discussing everything game related (Clans, communities, development/mods, etc).

Then we have networks like Freenode, EFNet, etc filled with channels related to programming, operating systems, designing, etc. I am able to speak to developers from Splashdamage, id Software, Yahoo services, Google services, Microsoft services and many more (a lot of big brands/applications have their own central channel though not always official) directly and get support for any problem you can imagine within minutes, versus waiting for hours on certain web communities, and discuss further details of the problem directly.

And sure, EFNet (and various other networks) also has a darker side, piracy, hacking and maybe even CP as you mentioned but is this in any way different from what the web consists of and does this mean that all the positive things IRC has to offer has to go?

im just wondering who funded it for all the years (1)

decora (1710862) | more than 3 years ago | (#36356846)

before the big corporations got involved. i am talking 1995-2000, when i used to hang out on there alot.

you would have constant server hacks, massive problems with servers going down, networks splitting, etcetera. the whole thing was run by a mysterious group of admins, who would GLine you for making controversial political statements and annoying operators of certain channels, but these admins would freely allow child porn channels and warez channels to stay up for years on end.

and who was hosting these servers? places like universities, big ISPs, etc etc etc. That was where the names resolved to.

so yes, i am being totally serious. there is not very much logical reason for a university or business to host a massively bandwidth hogging haven for criminal activity, full of drama and expense that was almost entirely devoted to non-educational activity. I mean how did they ever justify it in their budget?

Unless the Feds put it there on purpose to help catch people, it just defies reason.

How is it different from the web in general? I don't know. I don't know how 4chan stays afloat either.

But now I have a pretty good idea.

Am I a paranoid conspiracy theorist? No, I just read a lot of CIA & FBI history books. They were heavily involved with the media in the 60s, I am just thinking it is a logical progression for them to be involved in the same way in cyberspace.

Re:im just wondering who funded it for all the yea (1)

rmstar (114746) | more than 3 years ago | (#36356954)

there is not very much logical reason for a university or business to host a massively bandwidth hogging haven for criminal activity, full of drama and expense that was almost entirely devoted to non-educational activity. I mean how did they ever justify it in their budget?

Your mistake is assuming there needed to be a thoroughly sound logical reason for the institution to engage in it.

In reality, these things tend to be rather accidental and chaotic. The people providing the funding for the computers were giving it to the unis to come up with basically whathever (i.e. research). They didn't want to know in detail what was being done with every cpu or every hard disk. The people running the irc servers were hooked, doing it for fun, and some other strange reasons that fall under "human nature".

The inconsistencies you noted are just typical human nature. It won't change, btw. The idea that institutions or humans act rationally just does not correspond to reality.

ok, what about this? (1)

decora (1710862) | more than 3 years ago | (#36357378)

there has to be a thoroughly sound and logical reason for the FBI to allow child porn and warez to flow through government owned (universities are government institutions) computer networks, for years on end, meanwhile the FBI goes after countless john does for having child porn and/or warez networks running on their personal computers.

Re:always wondered why IRC was allowed (1)

trapnest (1608791) | more than 3 years ago | (#36356960)

Where does google have an IRC channel?

Wait, wait, wait... (2)

bistromath007 (1253428) | more than 3 years ago | (#36356176)

You're telling me that indiscriminate thieves have a mercenary attitude which makes them prone to turn on their partners in crime?

Mind blown.

Re:Wait, wait, wait... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36356256)

You're telling me that indiscriminate thieves have a mercenary attitude which makes them prone to turn on their partners in crime?

Mind blown.

Not only that, but apparently we're supposed to be concerned about the privacy of identify thieves.

Us vs Them mentality (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36356180)

I wonder what percentage of the US population is defined as an "FBI informer", I mean giving information to authorities is part of being an upstanding citizen no? Is it so hard to believe that someone affectionately labelled a "hacker" could also be working toward the greater good of society by pointing out the faults in its security?

The way the media spins it hacker is an enemy right? And enemies don't cooperate with authority, they are informants, y'know, rat on each other like the cowards they are?

Yeesh!

Isn't it similar with pedos? (2)

AliasMarlowe (1042386) | more than 3 years ago | (#36356186)

Well, they do something similar on the pedo circuit, where it's probably 75% cops trying to harvest the few real pedos. Both the "dirty old man" and the "innocent pubescent girl" of urban lore are likely to be law enforcement officers, and possibly even colleagues at neighboring desks.

Re:Isn't it similar with pedos? (4, Interesting)

bughunter (10093) | more than 3 years ago | (#36356276)

Both the "dirty old man" and the "innocent pubescent girl" of urban lore are likely to be law enforcement officers, and possibly even colleagues at neighboring desks.

For some reason, this scenario brought to mind the occasions on which, as Dungeon Master, I've caught myself roleplaying both sides of an exchange between two NPCs. I try to avoid that whenever possible because it's seldom entertaining for the players, usually pointless, and more than a little bit disturbing...

Hm. That's analogy actually holds up.

Re:Isn't it similar with pedos? (1)

AmberBlackCat (829689) | more than 3 years ago | (#36357702)

Perhaps the police need a "dirty old man" to lend credibility to the "innocent pubescent girl". I mean, not so much like two characters talking in a role playing game. More like when somebody invites you to a seminar for a money-making scheme and hires a bunch of people to sit in the crowd and act really interested in the product so you'll think maybe you should be interested too.

Re:Isn't it similar with pedos? (1)

Hartree (191324) | more than 3 years ago | (#36356670)

Reminds me of "Smith And Jones" by Ray Stevens

A highly forgettable song about two federal agents going undercover at night in a park to arrest a flasher. They ended up hand cuffed together naked and citizen's arrested by the real flasher.

open gates (1)

Nihn (1863500) | more than 3 years ago | (#36356196)

fight fire with fire...everything burns....nothing is left.....way to go, keeping the world in an ever present state of lies, deception, and a totalitarian government

Big surprise (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36356242)

This is a natural by-product of the of a national gestapo using "useful idiots" as proxies for doing their dirty work. Federal informants are often permitted to break the law and are paid very handsomely, often with provided housing and up to hundreds of thousand dollars a year, for their work.

Since these informants work for money(what "hacker" works for the fame of being a snitch?!) , they are more likely to embellish or even fabricate evidence to back up their claims. The FBI don't care about that, because if charges are bogus they will entrap of go fishing to find another charge to justify the time and cost.

The real question is, how much money is being spent on informants("cyber" or otherwise)? Could that money be better spend on schools or infrastructure? Why is it that scumbags with questionable pasts are being paid forty-thousand dollars(or more) a year while we and our families are eating ramen noodles for dinner and wondering how we're gonna pay next month's rent?

The answer is part of the government's broader plan to turn half the population against the other half. The ones who drink the kool-aid get to feed their families. The rest are radicals and terrorist pedophiles who deserve to be jailed and even used as near-slave labor. The big security complex is the only future in an America with large numbers of returning warriors and no economy other than the unsustainable one of making and busting criminals. Greed eats itself.

Yes, all of those things are true. No, I will not look them up for you, use your Google Fu - start with "lodi ice cream man terrorist, " level/tier 1 informant," "FBI infiltrate environmental groups," "prison labor builds patriot missiles," and go from there.

Why are people wasting time whining about exposing foreign informants? What concerns us is the network of domestic informants, aka Stasi 2.0. McGruff the crime dog says - "If you snitch, you get a bullet in your dome for being a coward."

-- Ethanol-fueled

Re:Big surprise (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36357364)

that was full of emotional arguments, hyperbole, and false dichotomies. u mad there are people of differing priorities?

Phew! (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36356250)

I'm so glad that SOMEONE has figured out the clear definition of the term "hacker".

Can you please post it here?

Re:Phew! (1)

poity (465672) | more than 3 years ago | (#36357600)

Maybe you're more accurately a hobbyist tinkerer, and maybe someone else is more accurately a network intruder.. but fuck that in any case. This is what you get for pigeon-holing yourself into broadly defined labels. If people at large recognize a label for a certain meaning, insisting otherwise isn't going to change things or benefit you in any way. This is why I hate foisting labels on myself -- better to enjoy the hobbies and people you relate to on your own terms without ideological associations.

that THAT, FUCKERS! (5, Interesting)

Thud457 (234763) | more than 3 years ago | (#36356274)

37% of FBI/CIA informers are double-agents.

what's good for the goose is good for the gander...

Re:that THAT, FUCKERS! (1)

Trivial Solutions (1724416) | more than 3 years ago | (#36357288)

I count one black hat.

Was this a box on the census? (1)

Thruen (753567) | more than 3 years ago | (#36356278)

I fail to see how anyone could possibly claim to have any estimate even remotely close to the real number of hackers in the US. If they have some log somewhere, then it seems to me that 100% of hackers in the US should be informants, because the rest have been found and arrested. This story is nonsense, nothing but propaganda to keep people from losing faith in the FBI's capabilities on the internet while all these stories about Lulzsec and Anonymous are going around.

Deja Vu (1)

overshoot (39700) | more than 3 years ago | (#36356288)

Somehow this reminds your humble geezer of the Deutsche Demokratische Republik.

Re:Deja Vu (1)

gilbert644 (1515625) | more than 3 years ago | (#36356910)

Yeah they used to publish a lot of bullshit, shame the guardian is following suit.

What i don't understand... (2)

Deus.1.01 (946808) | more than 3 years ago | (#36356330)

Is why FBI/CIA needs so many gifted programmers

*Yeah i know its 2011 BUT IM STILL FIGHTING FOR THAT JARGON, DAMNIT!*

Oh really? (1)

mayberry42 (1604077) | more than 3 years ago | (#36356352)

And how many hackers are out there, exactly? Uhm...riiight.

The underground world of computer hackers has been so thoroughly infiltrated in the US by the FBI and secret service that it is now riddled with paranoia and mistrust, with an estimated one in four hackers secretly informing on their peers, a Guardian investigation has established.

This sounds more like the voice-over narration to the introduction of a cyberpunk B-movie than a remotely decently written article...

Re:Oh really? (2)

formfeed (703859) | more than 3 years ago | (#36356956)

You don't have to know the absolute number. You just have to have a rough estimate, which you get by counting girls hanging out with their best female friend on Saturday night. Then you just go to a 2600 or lug meeting and drop a giant butterfly net from the ceiling. Next you simply count your sample and check how many wear dark suits. They are either FBI or IBM.

Luring ... (3, Interesting)

MacTO (1161105) | more than 3 years ago | (#36356378)

My biggest problem with this sort of scheme is that they are facilitating the very thing that they are claiming to combat.

Are they luring people into committing crimes that they would not have committed otherwise? I'm guessing that the answer is yes, even if it is unintentional. After all, a lot of wrong-doings wouldn't be done if there wasn't a social framework (e.g. forums) to reinforce the behaviour.

So if its intentional? (1)

elucido (870205) | more than 3 years ago | (#36356718)

What then? You can't really do anything about it whether it's intentional or unintentional.

And if a team of informants want to set you up, there are enough laws and enough ways to make it happen.

Re:So if its intentional? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36357230)

"You can't really do anything about it whether it's intentional or unintentional."

Which shows what a fubar'd country we live in, where the prison system is about profits and putting someone behind bars is more about upmanship and career advancement than bettering society.

Wasn't there about a year ago a sting on cigarette sellers who sold to minors and bypassed tax laws doing so, where the report admitted getting those minors they were supposedly protecting hooked at smoking?

Not only did they facilitate the bad behavior to catch the criminal, given the behavior, it probably will ending up killing people with a lifelong addiction. Worse, while the acknowledged this, they gave no remedy, such as tracking smoking cessation programs to the problems area where they knew they distributed the illicit cigarettes.

Reminds me of what people have said the government does to the drug trade, that in the end it supports more users so they can rack up criminals they actually created.

"And if a team of informants want to set you up, there are enough laws and enough ways to make it happen."

Esp. with judges and police being the outstanding citizens and members of our society that they are. (sardonic smirk) Reminds me of an NPR story I sort of tuned halfway into, where Chicago police were on the take. When those that didn't go on the take, they got bad duties. So what did these "good" officers do, which the program was telling _were_ in fact good intending officers? Go on the take too to get out of the bad duty. Nevermind telling on their bad cop buddies, reporting anonymously to IA, or upholding they law they were supposed to be doing. No, their job and paycheck, and now part of the take system, was more important than the law.

No one really seems to do the right thing anymore, not reporters, farmers, police, teachers, government workers, military, city officials, government on nearly every level, etc. How sad that harm has now become this created, near fictitious concept in our society, where true harm is only a small subset compared to the propaganda created by those who want to get paid somewhere along the line.

Air America... (3, Interesting)

roc97007 (608802) | more than 3 years ago | (#36356392)

I wonder how much of illicit credit card money finds its way back into FBI budgets. To fight crime, you know.

ahhh so beautiful in its eternal optimism (1)

The Dawn Of Time (2115350) | more than 3 years ago | (#36356494)

As you may have guessed, the estimate appears to be based only on the number of black hats, rather than all hackers.

Good luck on your rms-like quest to redefine the common usage of a term to suit your desires.

Re:ahhh so beautiful in its eternal optimism (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36356604)

yeah - its a useless endeavour. too many people ignorant of history around - much like yourself. redefine indeed.

Slashdot... (0)

Isaac Remuant (1891806) | more than 3 years ago | (#36356496)

Slashdot, news about hackers, stuff that's stolen.

Lamo wasn't "turned" (1, Insightful)

catmistake (814204) | more than 3 years ago | (#36356504)

the FBI didn't "turn" Lamo. His hypocritical moral superiority turned him into a rat. Lamo is lucky he has no friends like himself. I have trouble believing he as any friends.

How do we know Lamo wasn't tortured? (1)

elucido (870205) | more than 3 years ago | (#36356734)

When it's cases like Lamo's and the CIA gets involved they aren't beyond torturing somebody, or killing, or threatening to kill.

So if Lamo were going to be tortured alongside Manning unless he helped them, that would turn Lamo too.

Re:How do we know Lamo wasn't tortured? (3, Informative)

catmistake (814204) | more than 3 years ago | (#36357100)

ah, that's not what happened. Lamo was not being pressured by the FBI nor tortured by the CIA. He was not being solicited by anyone. He took it upon himself to decide that someone like Manning, who like himself exhibited signs of mental illness, should not have access to state secrets. He believes he's a repatriated hero.

"Hackers?" (1)

History's Coming To (1059484) | more than 3 years ago | (#36356558)

Dear Guardian,
Please define "hacker" before I read your article and the associated advertisements. No, no, it's OK, I'll wait.

The other 75% (3, Funny)

Shag (3737) | more than 3 years ago | (#36356570)

...aren't at liberty to say which agencies of which governments we're working for.

Re:The other 75% (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36356810)

hahahahahahah!!!!

Re:The other 75% (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36357686)

The other 75% percent are working for private firms. Better money. ;-)

See also '60s "radicals" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36356576)

Pretty soon it'll be like the situation with "radical" student groups in the '60s; afterwards, many members found out that not only were they *not* the only police informant in the group but that essentially *everyone* was working for the cops...

Headline is misleading (1)

Mister Whirly (964219) | more than 3 years ago | (#36356642)

The headline is a little misleading, in that the left off the last part. It should read "25% of US Hackers are FBI/CIA Informers After They are Caught". They are informing to get out of the previous shit they got caught for, much like drug informers.

Any other motives? (1)

formfeed (703859) | more than 3 years ago | (#36357274)

The headline is a little misleading, in that the left off the last part. It should read "25% of US Hackers are FBI/CIA Informers After They are Caught". They are informing to get out of the previous shit they got caught for, much like drug informers.

I wonder.

Are they pressured, turned, reformed, or "healed"?
I guess, the motives would greatly depend on the circumstances. Someone, who started breaking into systems for the coolness or bragging factor would find it equally cool to be a secret undercover agent. If it was just technical curiosity, a little agreement lets you keep your toys. And someone who helps to stop criminals that steal credit information from unsuspecting grandmas might even get the feeling that they are making up for their past, much more so than someone who helps to intimidate 14 year olds that download the latest movie trash. Someone who hacks for concrete political reasons might be harder to get to the state were they fully cooperate, harder than someone who defines it as part of his post-political cyber-identity whatever manifesto.

On the other hand, motives and your reasoning don't have to go hand in hand. Once pressured you can always try to convince yourself, that it was your duty anyhow.

So when you guys do it too.... (1)

compucomp2 (1776668) | more than 3 years ago | (#36356674)

The Slashdotters deny, deny, deny, or justify and rationalize that it's just fine. But if China *supposedly* hires hackers to do their bidding, and of which there is as little proof as displayed here, this is worthy of airstrikes apparently. Western hypocrisy on display right here.

Re:So when you guys do it too.... (1)

black3d (1648913) | more than 3 years ago | (#36356984)

Deny what? Nobodys "denying" there are hackers in the US. Western Hypocrisy? You've injected a comment which has nothing to do with the conversation.

If you're trying to connect the two by claiming that the US government keeping informants, is somehow remotely equivalent to the Chinese government attacking other countries network infrastructure, you are crazy.

Re:So when you guys do it too.... (1)

compucomp2 (1776668) | more than 3 years ago | (#36357238)

You're denying the validity of this report, which states that a full quarter of hackers are working for the FBI/CIA, and thus proxy agents of the government, which is what Slashdotters routinely accuse of Chinese hackers. But because it's your team does the same act, it's either denied (reports false etc.) or justified as being OK (as in the case of Stuxnet). That's American hypocrisy right there.

They tried this on me a few times... (5, Interesting)

siliconincdotnet (525118) | more than 3 years ago | (#36356686)

I've had my run-in with this before. I'm just a generic every day sysadmin and have no real involvement with the security community, short of idling on IRC with a bunch of more active people. Here are my experiences:

In 1997 or '98 I was the sysadmin for a mom 'n pop local ISP. We got hit by a massive DOS attack - keep in mind this was in the pre-smurf/DDOS era, so it really did warrant the attention of the feds. The owner contacted them, and they talked to me about getting any logs we might have (which of course I was ready to provide). I asked them where they wanted me to send them, and... "No, why don't you meet us out somewhere? We'll buy you lunch.". Despite the offer of free food, the alarm bells were going off by this point. So, I met them at a local coffee shop, and out of the 30 or so minutes I was there, they spent maybe two minutes discussing the DDOS with me, and the rest of the time attempting to get me to inform on the local 2600 group. I declined repeatedly, and they continued to make more forceful and threatening requests. Every time I disagreed with them, they looked at each other - and this was the creepiest (and obviously rehearsed) behavior I've ever seen. They never did get those logs from me.

After that I didn't hear anything until around 2005 or so when one of my ex-coworkers from another company called to tell me two men came by looking for me, and that they had government plates on their car. They left a card, but since I'm not under any obligation to call them, I never did. As the years went by, I received more calls from different people with a similar story.

And my last run-in with them was only a year or two ago - someone called me from a cell phone claiming he was with the FBI, and he had my computer and I needed to come to the local field office to pick it up. I found that to be rather unlikely since I tend to hang onto them until they're dead, I certainly wasn't missing one, and then they (minus the drives - I still have those) go into the bin. After a week of ignoring his calls he stopped bothering me.

To this day I have no idea what they wanted, but the entire thing reeked of ill-spent tax dollars.

I really don't care anymore, so the hell with posting as AC...

Re:They tried this on me a few times... (2)

elucido (870205) | more than 3 years ago | (#36357508)

If thats all they did then it wasn't as bad as it could have been. You weren't threatened with torture. You weren't entrapped and then threatened with prison as a sex offender. You weren't set up by your "friends".

Trust me, it could have been a lot fucking worse. If this is how they operate, if they went with the honorable civilized man to man talk approach, this actually makes the FBI or Agency look good. No ones rights were violated and no one was tortured, abused, or tricked.

Unpersuasive (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36356732)

Adrian Lamo wasn't "persuaded" to do what he did. He chose to. Willfully. He did this because he is without merit on any level.

But.... but.... (1)

mattdm (1931) | more than 3 years ago | (#36356834)

Surely they will be stopped by the login banner which clearly says "If you are a federal agent, log out now!"

CIA (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36356862)

The CIA isn't even mentioned in the article. Good job.

Hackers & Statistics (1)

Synerg1y (2169962) | more than 3 years ago | (#36356922)

It's most likey 25% of convicted hackers turned. They are probably defining hackers as site operators AND black hats who dealt in wares, keys, hacks, etc... or worms, viruses, data theft. Think about it, they can only know "hackers" they've caught. I would have thought the turn rate would be a lot higher considering WHY most people choose to venture to that side (it's not for you), the offer isn't probably extended to everybody. And of course to add a little humor, the people they actually want as informants, they can't catch. Script kiddies ahoy.

So be good.. for goodness sake (1)

Wolfling1 (1808594) | more than 3 years ago | (#36357012)

It astounds me that the CIA/FBI are naive enough to believe that leaking this tripe is going to frighten pre-pubescent hackers into leaving Sony alone.

That's their strategy for stopping LulzSec?

Actually, it doesn't astound me. It disappoints me.

/CIA, I am disappoint
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